October 26, 2015

Students Recognized for Artistic Excellence at the Annual Student Academic Conference

Several extraordinary pieces of student art were recognized last weekend during the college’s 11th annual Student Academic Conference at an artists’ reception and event for winners of the 2015 Student Art Competition.  

This year, there were two top winners: One was for best overall entry, as judged by the student art competition selection committee, and the other was a contest for the college poster. For the first time, faculty and staff, as well as students and alumni, were invited to vote online for their favorites among the final entries selected by the committee.

Copies of the artwork voted as the favorite of the campus community are framed, distributed and displayed throughout the college’s locations across the state.

The conference was held Friday-Saturday, Oct. 23-24, in Albany, and drew more than 400 student and alumni attendees and featured scores of workshops as well as the art reception.

Best Overall Entry

President Merodie A. Hancock and student Patricia Sifuentes Cazorla at the 2015 Student Academic ConferenceFriday evening, Venezuelan artist Patricia Sifuentes Cazorla explained that her winning artwork, a cardboard cutout of the ‌apartment building she grew up in, was a reflection of the unrest and economic inequality in her hometown. In “The Sale (El Preludio de la Venta),” she said that she purposefully used subdued hues of green and gray, even though, in actuality, her homeland is lushly colorful. “It shows what citizens are suffering in my country,” she explained. The jagged edge was emblematic of the deterioration of the building, and the prominent iron gates spoke of the fact that, “People have to live behind gates due to violence and insecurity.” In her other pieces, the artist showed her skill with fine etchings of people’s faces, including adults and children who displayed the meso-American features of her homeland. The artist is partially of Chinese ancestry, and so some of her portraits were a nod to that history as well, she said. She is in her last year as a visual arts student with Mentor Betty-Wilde-Biasiny, at the college’s Metropolitan New York region.

Winning Poster

President Merodie Hancock and student Arleen Thayer at the 2015 Student Academic Conference.The winning poster is a duotone photograph of documentary photographer Arleen Thaler’s cousin, Aesha, a retired professional ballet dancer. A documentary photographer with interest in socio-economic justice issues, the Rochester-based Thaler said the winning photograph, of Aesha in an abandoned subway station, was part of her “Swan Dreams” project.  Thaler comes from a large multi-racial family, she explained, and her cousin is involved in initiatives to empower African-American girls. Thayer also documents the lives of the homeless, refugees and the poor in her Rochester community. She has just completed a series on the migrant farming community.

Her husband, Daryl, also an amateur photographer, remarked, “Aesha is remarkable. Arleen spent three days shooting about 5,000 photographs. It was a really emotional project.”

Additional Awards and Recognition

Dawn Judkins, who studies at the college’s Latham location, took second place for “Ode to JF”; Thaler’s “Swan Dreams,” in addition to winning the poster contest, also was awarded third place; Makenzi Enos earned an honorable mention for “Chasing Fog” and Natalie Krone, of the Central New York region, received an honorable mention for “Celebration.” Gwendolyn Murph, who studies at the college’s location in Manhattan, also earned an honorable mention for “Lingering Reflections.”

Krone, who won her honorable mention for a photograph of colored bubbles in oil, said, “I decided to enter to be able to meet my peers. I took this photograph during a class, Advanced Photography, with my mentor, Lee Herman.”

The multi-media art ranged from photographs to collage, paintings to quilting.

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