Honors exhibit recognizes student art and photography achievements

By Hector M. Zermeno

Art and photography students received recognition among fellow students, faculty and family members at a reception and award ceremony hosted by the Art Department May 5.

CiRoughly 100 attendees surrounded artworks that clustered the walls and rested atop white pedestals in the Riverside City College Quad Art Gallery.

“I love when I see someone’s work progress,” said Leslie A. Brown, gallery coordinator. “We’re fundamentalist instructors, primarily, but we are also sophisticated enough in our own work that we know how to get them where they are going.”

The reception and award ceremony are part of the Student Honors Exhibition 2016. The exhibition features sculpture, painting, figure drawing, mixed media, animation, illustration, photography, printmaking and ceramics.

Sixteen recognitions were awarded during the ceremony.

RCC President Wolde-Ab Isaac presented the first award of the night.

“We have reasons to be proud and the source of our pride is the utter excellence of our students,” Isaac said to the audience. “In my eyes you’re all great artists, you’ve all won the prize.”

Isaac presented the President’s Award, which includes a monetary prize, to Jay Emstrom for his pen sketch titled “Birds and Hands.”

Isaac said the sketch reminded him of his childhood struggle to find “solutions and keys” because it features tools.

“It gave me a piece of my past,” Isaac said.

Two Centennial Awards were presented to celebrate the college’s anniversary. The student recipients were Gonzalo Contreras and Jay Emstrom.

“You look at his work… and it’s just disgustingly beautiful,” said Nicole Green-Hodges, professor of art, while presenting the Centennial Award to Jay Emstrom. “I just really admire him and appreciate him.”

Two students received a 100 dollar Student of Distinction Scholarship. The award consists of two categories: studio art and art history. It is presented by Art Department faculty and the Art Club.

Vicki Mercado received the studio art scholarship and Alec Sandoval received the art history scholarship.

Scott Bauer, dean of instruction of performing arts, presented the Purchase Award to Rafael Mejia.

The Purchase Award is given to the student whose artwork is purchased by the dean for his private collection.

Rhonda Taube, department chair of the Art Department, said she is amazed each year by the work of students.

“It really makes you realize what a professional program we have,” Taube said. “I think our students produce such breathtaking work.”

She said the quality of work from the students is why they are successful at getting into “great” art programs from around the country.

James Nelson, an illustration design student and a Student Honors Award recipient, said the faculty has helped him build a “utility belt” of skills that will help him achieve his goals.

“I’ve been building up that confidence,” Nelson said. “I don’t want to rush this.

“It’s not about getting your degree and moving on, it’s about building something within yourself and a skill set that you can carry on with you.”

Nelson said his goal is to be accepted to the illustration design program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

The Student Honors Exhibition is put together at the end of each academic year by the Art Department with the help of Art Club students. The exhibition will remain open until May 27.

“I’m very, very proud of all the work,” Bauer said. “The student work is fabulous, we have fabulous faculty and we have a fabulous galley director.”

Brown said she appreciates the hard work of students that make exhibitions at the gallery possible.

“This department is so strong,” Brown said. “I’ve worked in many, many colleges. The department here is the strongest art department I’ve ever worked at.”

Student Honors Award recipients:

President’s Award-
Jay Emstrom

Purchase Award-
Rafael Mejia

Centennial Awards-
Gonzalo Contreras
Jay Emstrom

Student of Distinction Scholarship-Studio Art
Vicki Mercado

Student of Distinction Scholarship-Art History
Alec Sandoval

Student Honors Awards-
Brian Gomez
Caroline Siordia
Deborah George
Gina Mareina
Hugo Fernando
Ivy Lomax
James Nelson
Nidia Hermida
Rafael Mejia
Taylor Thompson