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CAM contest boasts year’s brightest

One of the toughest art competitions on campus culminates Friday, with the opening of the 28th Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM). Comprised of artworks from graduates and undergraduates, the student show represents the best works the School of Art produces each year, said Alexa Favata, associate director of CAM.

“The museum invites a juror, along with the USF art and art history faculty,” said Favata, “Each year an artist, art historian, museum professional or art critic is invited to select the works for the show.”

This year’s juror is Allan McCollum. An internationally renowned conceptual artist based in New York City, McCollum is the visiting artist in residence of the USF School of Art and is also collaborating with Graphicstudio.

“McCollum is a name we’ve heard from many young artists,” Favata said. Students entering the show cannot submit statements and must submit their original work; no facsimiles or slides are allowed for submission. And since the show is jury-blind, McCollum had no idea who produced the work or what the artists’ school standing is when he selected the entrants for the show.

“Your work has to stand on its own,” Sunni Barbera said. Barbera’s photograph Jen 22 from the Plush Arena was chosen for the show.

According to Barbera, an artist will only get a piece in the show “if (he/she) makes something that has a solid concept and is solid technically.”

“Since he was collaborating here on campus and has had a show at CAM, the decision to select (McCollum) was an easy one,” Favata said. “He was actually a unanimous choice.”

Favata said McCollum is the first artist to juror the show in a number of years. The guidelines for the show are up to the juror’s discretion, but Favata said McCollum has selected a show that is representative of all artistic media. She said no two jurors select the show in the same manner.

“It’s nice to bring in someone with fresh eyes to review the show, someone not associated with the faculty and staff,” Favata said. McCollum selects both the entrants accepted for the show and its award-winners.

Members of the community donate awards for the exhibition. The Salvador Dali Museum sponsors the first-place award, with a prize of $1,000. Furman MotorCar, Frame by Frame Gallery, and private museum patrons also donate awards. In addition, The Institute for Research in Art: CAM/Graphicstudio and the faculty and staff of the School of Art and Art History also support the show with awards in their names.

For the sake of diversity, some donors stipulate specificity for award winners, such as prizes specifically for graduate students or for merit in photography.

The selections were posted at CAM on March 19.

The awards ceremony and opening reception take place Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. and the exhibition will be on display until May 1. The reception coincides with the 5th annual ArtHouse, when the School of Art opens its doors to viewers from the community, displaying student art works, performances and videos.