The 31st annual Irwin Scholarship Award exhibition showcases the outstanding work of 12 of UC Santa Cruz’s most promising young artists.
This year’s theme, Love, Sex, Tenderness, & Trauma features graphic scenes of sexual abandon and murderous violence – reminiscent of the exploitation film genre of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s – which draw the viewer in with explosive, saturated colors and synesthetic textures.
“These are our most exceptional students and this year it is going to be a remarkable show, exploring critical issues through an unconventional lens,” said Associate Professor of Art and Digital Art New Media, Dee Hibbert-Jones, who is the faculty advisor for the exhibition. “The exhibition features work that transcends boundaries and demands engagement with a curious public.”
Presenting a rich collection of innovative works that examine the personal as political, individualized themes are expanded into broad social, political, and environmental frameworks
“In such dark times I find a tremendous bright light coming from this group of young artists,” said the Sesnon Gallery’s Manager/Assistant Curator Mark Shunney. “I feel fortunate to be working with a diverse and powerful group of young artists. This has been a tremendous year and this group of artists really put things in perspective.”
Other parts of the exhibition have looped recordings from faraway loved ones, compelling the audience to contemplate the concept of home, both mental and physical. Dynamic thread sculptures slither across photographic prints, twisting and turning in the light as they manifest the presence of thought in space.
Pencil works and pastels chronicling troubled memories press viewers to consider the seemingly limitless variety of ways that various mediums possess the power to express disturbing experiences.
“We are extremely impressed with this motivated group of Irwin Scholars this year, who are collaborating on a cohesive exhibition of their current research and have designed stunning postcards, posters and a website with all the press material,” commented Shelby Graham, director/curator of the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery.
The 2017 Irwin Scholars
Tender and tickled pink, Julia Aviles's photography finds itself at the intersection of poetry, architecture, and anatomy as she delves into the emotional significance of the home.
Inhabiting a region between the natural and the surreal, Bailey Clark's work offers a natural sublimity that connects recognizable normalcy with dreamlike realms.
Through the use of chromatic neutrals and impasto application techniques, painter Luis Contreras depicts the endearingly hedonistic and ever-intoxicating experience of youth.
Through color and dynamic visual elements, painter, printmaker, and sketch artist Sarah Do characterizes the emotional experience of pain and explores it as a basis for empathy.
Using gender-weighted materials like wood or roses, Escobedo works to bridge gaps between feminine and masculine attitudes and to challenge us to consider how identity can be both constructed and deconstructed.
Taking aesthetic cues from midcentury ads, porn, and 60's and 70's sexploitation cinema, Mariet explores sex, gender, violence, and power.
Through his perspective as a first generation Vietnamese son of refugees, Webster Nguyen explores the clashing emotions and narratives that arise when working to maintain one's rich culture while also being heavily Americanized.
Love, Sex, Tenderness, & Trauma
Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery, Porter Faculty Gallery, Sesnon Underground
Exhibition: through June 17, 2017
Free and open to the public
About the Irwin Scholarship Award
The William Hyde Irwin and Susan Benteen Irwin Scholarship is the Art Department’s most prestigious student scholarship. At the end of fall quarter, 30 students are nominated by full-time faculty (ladder and lecturer) to submit work for competition. Ladder faculty meet as a group at the beginning of winter quarter to select the year's Irwin Scholarship recipients. Exceptional students from each area are invited to apply in winter. Selection of the winning artists is based on the excellence of the nominees’ creative work, with the winners each being awarded $2,500.