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April 17, 2014

The 2014 Student Invitational Opens at Chaffey's Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art

Written by  Kimberly Johnson
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Mixed Media by Krista Mathews Mixed Media by Krista Mathews Photo by Kimberly Johnson

Family, friends, proud professors and peers showed unparalleled support during Chaffey College’s 2014 Student Invitational (SI) opening reception on Tuesday, April 15. Within the first 10 minutes of the event’s commencement, attendees flocked in by the dozens. The schools 37th Annual Student Invitational was a labored accomplishment for the nine student participants who were hand- picked to take part in the yearly juried exhibition. The chosen artists were met with the task of creating a completely new body of work by working closely with faculty, art professionals and museum curators to refine their skills to professional levels.

Billy Barron, Linda Cota, Sara Crepes, Rob DeMeritt, Jason Hunter-Harris, Krista Mathews, Onyx Rodriguez, Erasmo Tapia and Eric Tenorio are this years’ celebrated artists. According to several student responses, the caliber of work presented by the group made it painfully difficult to play favorites. “They all literally have pieces that are my favorites,” said anthropology student Xavier Guerra. “If I had to choose just one, I really don’t know what I would do.”

The show—running from April 14-May 15—is wonderfully varied by mediums and thematics. Illustrator Jason Hunter- Harris, chose to set out on his SI endeavor by making the process an intimate affair. “During Spring of 2013, I began working on a series of portraits of people in my life,” he explains in his artist statement. “The illustrations explore uncertainty, loss, family and a sense of connection.”

As a proud Chaffey Panther, several of the images portrayed in Hunter- Harris’ work are familiar faces. From (u)ntitled: The Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art club president, Dulce Ibarra, to former Breeze newspaper editor- in- chief, Carly Jo Owens. He captures the quirks; the dynamics of friendship and the silly faces shared behind closed doors—all the while, notes of insecurity and confusion play across the pages. There is a cinematic feel to his art; one that makes the viewer feel a sense of fluidity and motion surrounding his subjects. These are people. Real, live, imperfect beings tousling with the intricacies of the human condition.

Intertwined with the human condition is our desire to identify, to create, to destruct and then reconstruct. Erasmo Tapia went for conceptualism to carry his SI contribution, employing all of the aforementioned quirks of humanism in his work. The artist—whose interest lies within letters and their ability to create shapes when distorted—naturally started his artistic career in graffiti—a practice that deals directly with letters and their manipulation to create art. “I have been manipulating type into abstract shapes for a long time. As a kid I thought about how choosing certain shapes made a letter and how letters made an alphabet,” he writes. “Later I became interested in graffiti and started drawing letters in that style—big with vibrant colors.”

“Hybrid—“ he responds, when asked what word best describes his body of work—“hybrid” he says with certainty. Tapia utilized Mayan and Aztec pictographs as inspiration for his SI display, noting that he has “chosen specific shapes from various [pictographs] to develop this typeface. No one “’letter’ is based on a specific hieroglyph and certain shapes were repeated and used in different ways…Each of these compositions spells the name of one of the main deities of Aztec and Mayan mythology.”

While Tapia’s concept is inspired by the interconnection of typography and ancient hieroglyphs, photographer Rob DeMeritt’s photography series captures a very different concept and theme.

His artist statement is concise and striking, making the experience of viewing his work that much more profound. He writes, “If the marks we leave are not permanent enough to surpass our existence, we stand little chance of being remembered. When I photograph settings stained with tragedies, life lost is memorialized and the stories of these places take on a new meaning. Each photograph recognizes the value of life and its impact on place.”

The series was inspired by a family tragedy, one that spearheaded the remainder of his photo series. After experiencing the familial turmoil, he set out to emphasize the significance and weight of locations in relation to our experiences. With only a year of formal photography training under his belt, his voice in the photographic realm really is remarkably pronounced.

To view the efforts of all of this year’s Chaffey College Student Invitational participants, make way to the school’s Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art by May 15. Additionally, a panel discussion, moderated by Shant Khalsa, will be held on the patio of the museum on Tuesday, April 22 at 5pm.

1 comment

  • Comment Link John Biggum April 21, 2014 posted by John Biggum

    Are there any photograph's of Rob DeMeritt's work or should I come in and see it in person?

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