Award-winning art student investigates American society and injustice – News

The artistic journey of A. Garcia at Illinois State has had no shortage of twists along the way. After changing their study focus to overcome setbacks and self-doubt, they emerged victorious – ending their college careers with the highest award from Wonsook Kim School of Art and a refined sense of direction. careers.

In early May, Garcia received the Marshall Dulaney Pitcher Award in this year’s competition Annual Student. The Marshall Dulaney Pitcher Award is given to an outstanding student at the Wonsook Kim School of Art who demonstrates exceptional artistry, dedicated studio practice, and academic excellence.

“I felt so honored when I received the award,” Garcia said. “It’s something that I always thought was a bit out of reach.”

Garcia graduated in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. They initially specialized in art education, but moved on to painting. This year was not Garcia’s first attempt to enter the exhibition. In 2017, Garcia’s freshman year at Illinois State, they entered their work into the Annual Student.

“I didn’t even enter the Annual Student“, García said. “I didn’t get a piece, and I was super disappointed and down on myself about it.”

Despite the setback, they refocused and bounced back the following year, qualifying for the 2018 Annual Student exposure. “I really look up to all the artists in the community around me,” Garcia said. “They really inspire me. Everyone around me, their work is so amazing.

Garcia took that inspiration from their peers and channeled it into their own work. Additionally, Garcia was mentored by Melissa Oresky and Andreas Fischer, associate professors in the Illinois State Painting Program. “They were incredibly helpful throughout my time at ISU,” Garcia said.

A. Garcia (2020 Marshall Dulaney Pitcher Award winner). To the left: loosen my pimples, 2019. Acrylic, cyanotype, grass clippings and paper towel on panel. 15×20 inches. To the right: Cuts, 2019. Acrylic, ink, pastel and AstroTurf on canvas. 33 x 43.5 inches. Both works are courtesy of the artist.

For their award-winning project, Garcia investigated the symbolism of the American lawn and its relationship to society. “I was looking for comparative injustices in this space,” Garcia said.

On their website, Garcia provided a synopsis of the project’s purpose: “In America, our front yards take up so much of our energy and resources without their prerogatives ever being questioned or considered. For example, many of us welcome the lawn with open arms, adorning it with the latest accessories and hairstyles; always keeping it hydrated. On the other hand, some of us neglect or reject this terrain, giving it a new, more political dynamic. These personal choices and their multi-layered effects allow us to envision the lawn as a microcosm of contemporary ecological discourse. This means that if we investigate the complex relationship that Americans have with their lawns, we will find that these complexities and issues can be uncovered on a much larger scale in contemporary society.

Garcia originally planned to use the project for his Bachelor of Fine Arts solo show, but circumstances brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) forced them to reinvent themselves.

“My BFA solo show was kind of tossed around, so all the work I had done for it wasn’t going to be able to be shown in a physical gallery,” Garcia said. “I decided to use the work for the Marshall Dulaney Pitcher Award instead because I had photographed it before and still wanted to participate in the Annual Student.”

Even in the face of abrupt change, Garcia managed to pull it off. “It was supposed to be a little different this year because it was an online exhibit, but overall I’m just grateful for the opportunity,” Garcia said. “It’s still hard to put into words.”

Throughout their time at Illinois State, Garcia worked at college galleries as a gallery assistant. They helped set up exhibits, greeted customers, and assisted staff as needed. “I learned so much being there,” Garcia said. “Working at university galleries has really changed and shaped my idea of ​​what I would like to pursue in the future. I was exposed to so many different career paths working there which was amazing.

“It has been a joy to work with A. over the past year and a half,” said Kendra Paitz, Director and Chief Curator of University Galleries. “Although 2020 presented challenges to everyone, A. excelled on many fronts.”

As a new graduate, Garcia aims to work in a gallery. “I would like to work in some sort of gallery or museum and be part of a community of artists,” Garcia said. “I would love to help bring in artists from around the world and be around individuals who fight for social justice through their work and their way of life.”

Further down the road, Garcia plans to return to school to receive an MFA in painting. With this degree, Garcia would like to teach painting at the college level.

“I really feel like I had a rewarding experience here,” said Garcia, who came to Illinois State from Braidwood. “I say all the time that I think coming here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I got to meet so many amazing people and find a community.

Learn about majors offered by Wonsook Kim School of Art and in the State of Illinoiss more than 150 other fields of undergraduate study by connecting to our academic departments through a virtual session.

Kayleen C. Rice