Opening Reception Held and Award Winners Announced for the 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition


Alex Cavalier

Guests viewed the 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition at the opening reception on March 23.

Alex Cavalier, Contributing Writer

The opening reception and awards ceremony for the 25th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition was held on March 23. Attendees gathered in the Wasmer Gallery at the Arts Complex to view the 72 selected artworks.

Senior Erika Salemme had three pieces on display. Seeing her peer’s artwork was her favorite part of the event.

“I haven’t been a part of an art show in a long time so it was nice being able to be a part of that. Especially for my senior year, my final semester at FGCU, to be a part of this and to see everyone’s artwork,” she said. “There were so many artworks done by people that I knew and some of my friends, so it was an incredible showcase. The pieces were so well done this year.”

The event began at 5 p.m. and lasted until 7 p.m. The first hour allowed guests to view the exhibit and simultaneously allowed the award sponsors to decide which artists would receive a prize.

At 6 p.m., guests were asked to move into the Art Complex courtyard for the award ceremony. A total of nine awards were given out.

Adrian Matheson, “Self-Portrait as Ophelia,” 2022, pastel on paper (Hayley Lemery)

Senior Adrian Matheson received the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Scholarship Award. The prize was presented by Clay Motley, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He took a liking to Matheson’s piece “Self-Portrait as Ophelia.”

“I just really liked the aesthetics of her self-portrait, particularly the look on the face of the person in the picture. My academic area is in literature, so I enjoyed the literary connection with Ophelia in Hamlet. The picture made me wonder how the painter sees herself as Ophelia. Ophelia has many great qualities in the play, but it does not end very well for her,” Motley said.

Matheson was surprised when Motley announced her name.

“I was not expecting to win anything, so I felt a little overwhelmed. I am so grateful to see that my work is appreciated by others,” Matheson said.

Junior Erika Marie Mancera took home three awards: Carl E. Schwartz for Artistic Endeavor, FGCU Art Galleries Sketchbook Design Award of Excellence and Southwest Florida Fine Craft Guild Award of Excellence.

Erika Marie Mancera, “Lost Mountain at Sunrise,” 2023, dry pastel (Hayley Lemery)

“I can’t believe it. Any time I got my name called I felt like that is when somebody else deserved the award. I was looking at friends that were also really deserving of that award. So, when I heard my name called, I was kind of spaced out because I didn’t expect it,” she said. “The  first time I thought ‘okay that’s cool,’ but then it happened a second time, and then the third time I was like ‘okay what’s happening.’”

A list of all of the 2023 award recipients can be found on the current season’s website.

One of this year’s jurors and the exhibition manager for the Naples Botanical Garden Kristen Kerwin loved seeing how art history is reflected in student artwork.

“You can tell that you’re looking at a student of art. They’re truly expressing all of these different styles and taking inspiration from all of these different artists and mediums. The inspiration and the creativity are very much explosion and alive. Whereas a lot of times when you work with artists trying to become professionals, it fades a little. It’s cool because, at this point, students are creating art for the sake of creating art, instead of creating art because I must pay my bills, and you can see that,” Kerwin said.

Every year, the exhibition helps grow the art program.

“We’re welcoming a bunch of people,” senior Brielle Anuario said. “We’re welcoming a bunch of strangers, family, friends, and future students that can go in there and see that we’re showcasing the best for everybody. We’re showing that the teachers are there to nurture that gift.”

Gallery Director John Loscuito is in agreement with Anuario.

“I’d love to see the submissions continue to increase. The more submissions we have, it’s going to generate a better quality exhibition because you have more things to choose from for the jurors,” he said. “I think outside of that, just having more of the community, the campus community and the local community, aware of the exhibition. The turnout is usually the best we have, and we always want more people to come and see and meet the students.”

Works accepted into the juried exhibition will be on display through April 6.