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Showcasing Young Artists

By JOHN COYNE
ART TIMES January February 2009

Now in its 15th year, The College of New Rochelle High School Women Artists Exhibition this fall attracted entries from 119 artists at 35 high schools in six states — Connecticut, New Jersey, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.  

The 2008 winner for first prize was Breyanna Faulkner, a student at Yonkers International Baccalaureate High School, for her mixed media work “My Inner Self Portrait.”  She was nominated by her teacher Grace Garcia. 

Second place winner was Laurent Dominga Maria-Ramos, a student at Mt. Vernon High School for her charcoal drawing “Fear of Clowns.” She was nominated by her teacher Rose Tavernia.

Third prize went to Sara Cha of Ardsley High School for her “Untitled” oil pastel. She was nominated by her teacher Stephanie Rosen.

This annual competition at The College of New Rochelle was created to offer aspiring young female artists the opportunity to show their work. As a women's college, CNR, with its strong art education program, wanted to give high school women the opportunity to have their artistic work taken seriously and judged and installed in a professional juried exhibition.

Dr. William C. Maxwell, Professor of Art in the School of Arts and Sciences at the College, describes the exhibit as “a wonderful way for aspiring artists to have an opportunity to exhibit their work early in their academic years.” The Art Department of CNR offers programs in Studio Art, Art Education, Art History, and Art Therapy.

According to the Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Richard Thompson, who greeted the students and their parents at the award ceremony, held on November 9, 2008, “Art is the lifeblood of The College of New Rochelle. And as you walk around campus, in the various galleries of this College, you will be aware of the presence of art touching our lives, helping us to view the world and ourselves in different ways and through different eyes.”

Dr. Thompson congratulated all the young artists for their creative work, saying, “The creative work you have shared with us contributes to our greater appreciation of the ordinary and extraordinary in life.”

Two judges, both of whom were professional practicing artists and curators from Westchester County and not connected to the College, selected the three winners of the show.

Emily Stern, Associate Professor of Art at CNR, made the point that this exhibition “provides artists a forum for critical feedback and dialog, the essential elements for growth. The exhibit also fosters recognition, independence, risk-taking, and self-confidence.”

The works of these students were selected for the exhibition by their art teachers. “This exhibit is very advantageous to our students,” explained Sr. Anne Therese Dillen of the Ursuline School in Westchester, “in that it offers them the possibility of showing their work formally in a wider context than that of their own in-school situation. It also gives them a taste of the importance of meeting deadlines and following directions, not just at the demand of their teachers, but for life in general.”

Dr. Maxwell pointed out to the high school students attending the reception that two previous participants in the annual exhibition — Janine Napierkowski and Alexander Gizzo — are both seniors at the College and their work is currently on display in one of the College's galleries.

In his presentation to the young artists, Dr. Maxwell pointed out that within the wider program of liberal arts in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Art Department “provided a nurturing and professional environment for women students to gain an understandings about the logistics of an art career, the choices and hurdles they may confront as art professionals, and the multiple and unique possibilities that studying the arts offers.”

By displaying their creative work in The College of New Rochelle High School Women Artists Exhibition, these students had taken their first steps in following their dreams of becoming artists and teachers of art.

(John Coyne is Manager of Communications at The College of New Rochelle)