One of the highlights of each fall semester, the Penn State School of Visual Arts' (SoVA) Undergraduate Juried Exhibition provides SoVA’s undergraduate students with the opportunity to have their work juried by a professional artist and compete for a Kara D. Berggren Scholarship Award, as well as several merit awards. This year's Kara D. Berggren Award winners are Samantha Bachman,and Ricky Bardy. Students selected for merit awards include Christine Bruening, Victoria Buchler, Josey Lee, Giulia Livi, and Jessica Lauren Waite.
Through the support of the John M. Anderson Endowed Lecture Series, each year SoVA invites nationally and internationally recognized artists and curators to serve as jurors for this special exhibition. This year, visiting artist,curator, and SoVA alum Tim Roda served in this role. Roda brought an exciting new twist to the mix. Each and every student who submitted a work for consideration was accepted into the show (the first time in the show's history)! As a student, Roda dreamed that his creations might be selected as a part of the 1999 Undergraduate Juried Show, but it was not to be. Ironically, Roda was asked to return to jury the very show that had rejected him years before. Below is Roda's story in his own words:
The year was 1999. I was an undergraduate art student at Penn State and happened to see a flyer for an undergraduate juried exhibition at Zoller Gallery. I went to my studio nook and worked tirelessly on a work of art that was both serious and funny—even political. I chose to use lead-based glaze to add extra flair. The work itself was a giant, yellow ceramic chick peep with George W. Bush’s face. It was awesome, and I was sure it was prize worthy. Maybe it would not win first place, but this masterpiece definitely would be the people’s choice. I even remember sneaking across the wood shop to peer through the glass just to get a glance at the juror’s reaction when he looked at my modern day Angelo.
I was absolutely beside myself when I found my work outside the gallery doors with the other misfits the juror decided didn’t make the cut. And I was pissed!
Ironically, hundreds of rejections later—along with several acceptances—I was asked to jury the very show that I never got into. Thirteen years later, I recognize that many factors might influence why a juror makes certain choices. It could be taste, coherence, or a theme.
When thinking about how I wanted to curate this show, I considered many options. I considered allowing all 90+ works to somehow coexist. One of my colleagues suggested that I would be a legend if I put all the works inside a wooden box and encapsulated it into concrete. What I can say is that I did not look at gender, year, or medium when choosing the works for the show. I looked at the work itself, and tried to build aesthetic relationships with the work that I hung around it. I searched for that unexpected moment that happens when you connect to a piece of art and react. Generally, I am attracted to work that is visceral, yet polished; has fundamental elements; but also stands its ground in some way by mocking them.
You will see that I chose the first option above and included every artwork that was entered into the show. I chose this option because I believe this is an educational experience. As a curator, I dealt with everything that was presented to me. Since everyone’s work got in the exhibition, this is a celebration of this point in your education. But, I want to remind you that you still have a lot of work to do.
Congratulations to all of this year's participants. Your SoVA community salutes you!