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Providence Art Club displays works by Rhode Island College Students.

On Sunday, February. 13, Providence Art Club opened its College Scholarship Exhibition at the Club’s Dodge House Gallery. The exhibit, which runs until March 4, showcases works created by students from colleges throughout Rhode Island.

The exhibition was open to submissions from college juniors and sophomores from Rhode Island. According to Gallery Director Michael Rose, after receiving close to 50 entries, the gallery decided to select 28 pieces to showcase, who was responsible for choosing the artworks.

“We’re looking for things that are novel and interesting and different, and with students, you get a lot of that,” Rose stated. Also significant when deciding on which works were showcased was the degree to which “you can see in the work that the artist achieved what they were aiming for,” the artist said. The gallery also looked at how a piece would work with the broader collection.

Rose said that, along with the competitive selection process, organizing the event was easy. “All the schools were supportive .. and a lot of faculty were encouraging their students to apply.”

The 2022 exhibit will be the 2nd College Scholarship Exhibition hosted by the Club, and the first was held in 2019. “The main goal is to do a better job of engaging with students at local colleges,” Rose stated. “We often find that students, especially at Brown and (the Rhode Island School of Design), will spend four years here and maybe never step foot in the art club.”

The exhibition also hopes to allow students to show their art. “Last time we did it, a number of the students in the show said that it was their first time (having artwork) in a professional gallery exhibition,” He added. “So to give artists that first opportunity is cool.”

Artist student Jaden Bleier ’23 is among the students displaying their artwork in a gallery for the first time. Her work, “The Kissing of Powdered Asses at a Picnic,” is a collage of people on picnic blankets and comprises ink, makeup, brown paper bags, and photos taken from The College Hill Independent.

Particularly, Bleier was excited about her exposure to other students artists from Rhode Island and “to see the variety of not only different mediums and themes but also perspectives,” she stated.

The Guatemalan American student artist Dominick Cocozza, a RISD sophomore, exhibited a work named “Beholder,” an oil painting depicting Indigenous issues of empowerment. The image focuses on the fact that an Indigenous girl is in a time of insecurity. Cocozza said the picture is part of his larger artwork, illustrating the importance of celebrating culture through portraiture.

In addition to displaying artworks in the show, the Club allows the first-place winner to exhibit their work in a solo exhibit the following year, in addition to an award of $1,000. The winner was announced on Sunday. The show’s winner was Crickett Fisher, who is a Rhode Island College student. The second-place prize was awarded to Onaje grant-Simmonds 24, who took home $500 cash prizes. RISD students Regina Gutierrez earned the third-place award.

Grant-Simmonds’ award-winning piece, “The first tribe: Primordial Origins,” was part of his ongoing surrealist collection titled “Fauna.” The piece that was created using acrylic, oils, and colored pencils mounted on wood was influenced by Sigmund Freud. “He had this kooky origin story of human society, which I found problems in, but funnily, I almost found that to be an interesting myth in itself — even though he was against myths and religion, he created one (despite) claiming to be a scientist,” Grant-Simmonds stated. His work is a remark of Freud’s “myth.” Still, it is “filled with (his) own characters and motifs.”

“Especially considering how great the rest of the art (in the exhibition) was, I’m honored,” Grant-Simmonds wrote for The Herald about winning the second place award. “It feels like a great start to my professional career.”

The student-created work was well-received by Gallery members. “The whole show is awe-inspiring (with) the variety and the talent,” noted Providence Art Club member Cynthia Spencer.

The exhibit’s success was evident in the curatorial selection of a broad selection of artworks and the massive turnout on opening day. Alongside other exhibitions in the program, the Club is also planning to host another “community invitational exhibition” in August that will feature several Rhode Island artists who are not members of the Club.

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