Our three-person jury team, Merryn Alaka, Magdalene Gluszek and Antoinette Cauley, reviewed all of the submissions this year for inclusion in this year's exhibit and selected award recipients.
Meet Merryn Omotayo Alaka
Merryn Omotayo Alaka is Phoenix based multi-media artist. Her work, inspired by both West African textiles and Black feminism, includes lithographs, graphic textile design, jewelry, and large-scale sculptures. Since 2018 Alaka has worked as the co-curator and assistant gallery manager at a Phoenix based gallery, Modified Arts.
"I want to thank Jennifer Harris and Mesa Community College for inviting me to jury the annual College Art Student Show at Mesa Community College. The submissions presented an array of well-crafted and beautifully presented works of art for me to view. There were so many powerful and strong works of art that the students at Mesa Community College created. I enjoyed getting a glimpse into the diverse art practice of so many students. I approached jurying this exhibition by identifying the pieces of art that initially stood out to me. I considered material, originality, process, and concept. I took time to read each statement corresponding to the works to gather a more dimensional understanding of the presented works. After this initial selection, I reviewed all the works together again and selected additional pieces to ensure a balance of materials, media, and process."
Meet Magda Gluszek
Magda Gluszek lives, hikes, and sculpts in the White Mountains of northeastern Arizona. Her detailed ceramic sculptures tell intricate and narrative stories. She is currently full-time Art Faculty and Gallery Director at Northland Pioneer College in Show Low, Arizona.
"I am honored to serve as one of the jurors for Mesa Community College's 2021 Student Art Show. While I realize that most of these artworks were designed to be experienced in person, I can appreciate that a digital format allows them to be more broadly accessible to a viewer like myself, who lives several hours away from Mesa. As I considered this format change (Covid-19), I also noticed how present it was in many artworks. Imaginative interpretations of the virus, direct allusions to illness/death, and depictions of emotional fallout from living through a pandemic were all captured in creative ways. I appreciated that several works responded to the social, political, and environmental issues that have escalated in our country and the world over the past year. We have been living through challenging times. Art can serve the purpose of helping us come to terms with what we've been facing, but it can be equally important in allowing us to appreciate what is beautiful in this world. For that reason, I also very much enjoyed viewing the artworks that represented the beauty and mystery of both Arizona's wilderness and intriguing urban landscapes. When jurying an exhibition with such a diverse range of entries, subjects, and media, I look for excellence in creativity, craftsmanship, and a sense of authenticity in the artist's work. I want to thank the students who submitted to this exhibition and wish you all the best with your continued art-making."
Meet Antoinette Cauley
A Phoenix native, Antoinette Cauley's work is very reflective of her city- the gritty and the beautiful. Her work is heavily influenced by rap music and hip-hop culture, focusing on social issues and her internal conflicts. Cauley is represented by the monOrchid Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently in Germany, completing an artist residency.
"As a full-time artist and part-time curator, I understand the work it takes not only to conceptualize and develop artwork. I also know the difficulty in piecing together an exhibition and how challenging it can be to select works from any given pool of artists. There were many wonderful and beautifully made pieces among the submissions, making it very difficult to narrow down a select few pieces for the final student exhibition.
Mesa Community College is where I spent my time studying fine art nearly a decade ago. It is where I ultimately found my voice as an artist through the help of professors like Kai Kim and Gingher Leyendecker and where I was able to kick start my career as a fine artist. I have entered several exhibitions within Maricopa Community Colleges. I was accepted into and named "best in medium" at the student show at MCC; there are many more opportunities and exhibitions where I received rejections. In my experience as a working artist, I can honestly say that it is in the "defeat" or "rejection" that you learn the most about who you are and your capacity as an artist. It is a true test of your level of commitment and determination to press forward and keep going.
There are many bright futures for the artists whose works I had the privilege of reviewing. I want to congratulate all of you for having the courage to apply for this exhibition. It is not an easy task to make yourself vulnerable through your art for the world to see. I would also like to congratulate all of the selected students for this exhibition and those who placed. For those who did not place, remember always to keep going! The path of an artist is not an easy one, and you will hear more "no's" than "yes's." It is what you do after you hear that "no" that will determine how far you go in your artistic endeavors.
Thank you for having me as a juror for this year's exhibition. As an MCC alumnus, it was indeed an honor."