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Student work comes to life

Visitors can expect anything and everything at art exhibits, but at the 10th Annual ArtHouse, student work physically duked it out for their attention. The event, sponsored by the College of Visual and Performing Arts on March 28, featured art ranging from larger-than-life performance pieces to oil on canvas.

“As part of the Annual Juried Student Exhibition, the College of Visual and Performing Arts puts on ArtHouse to draw attention to the department itself,” Centre Gallery director and third-year graduate student Adam Kitzerow said. “We have all the classrooms open where work is displayed and people can come in and take a look.”

The event began with students maneuvering large cardboard robots that were battling on the lawn between the Contemporary Art Museum and the Fine Arts building.

An attack on an 18-foot cardboard Abraham Lincoln head with glowing eyes and a moveable tongue followed. The performance quickly proved to be a crowd-pleaser as students cheered on their classmates. The fight ended when a green robot toppled Lincoln’s towering black hat in victory. Art students passed out tiny black hat replicas as souvenirs.

Kitzerow, who teaches Concepts and Practices II, discussed the class project.

“I presented my students with a challenge: They had to create something big enough to fit in a room, but capable of battling with each other,” he said. “This project was way more ambitious than anything they had done before.”

As far as the inspiration for a giant Lincoln head, Kitzerow said it was “recognizable and funny. It was a performance for the crowd.”

After the lawn exhibit, the crowd moved to the Fine Arts building, where student sculptures drew interest as visitors mingled in the FAH plaza among friends, food and music. Visitors and students drifted in and out of classrooms in which classified exhibits were on display.

The “sculpture” room featured a few everyday items with a twist. One item included a toilet chair decorated with both green and printed fabric, and a toilet seat broken in half and adorned as armrests. Another item featured a delicate female arm with veins at the fingertips and computer parts inside, visible through the sculpture’s clear skin.

The “advanced sculpture” room showcased an abstract black and white painting with great tension and detail between its subjects that covered most of the wall. On a raised block inside the room lay a cloth body with visible organs around its stomach.

In the Oliver Gallery, a side segment incorporated student work from universities across the country. Even though the exhibitions highlighted the talent of USF artists, those who attended appeared highly supportive of guest artists as well. A deconstructed chair with stuffing that seemed to be exploding from the inside of the seat grabbed attention in the gallery as people attempted to recognize the item.

Local band Giddy-Up, Helicopter!, clad in floppy animal jumpsuits, finished off the evening with a solid set and a courtyard full of listeners bobbing to its tunes. The band, self-described as “five crazy kids who play shoegaze indie rock with an Aryan twang,” melded well with the open air and open-minded venue.

Kitzerow said the campus and its local art events play a significant role in providing art to the community.

“Tampa itself has a lot of problems with focusing on art in general. There are a lot of high quality artists not getting attention,” he said.

Attendees agreed that although the artists are still considered students, this semantic stigma does not mean that they are not exceptionally talented.

“Art is an experience and having students’ work on display is a great way to experience art,” art student Cassie Hall said.