Art department showcases students

From afar, it looked like a garden-variety dress on a mannequin. But upon closer inspection, the real message of the art piece comes through. Words like "trafficking," "victimization" and "violence" were written on cards showing seemingly-malnoursished children, depicting the horrors of the fashion-making industry

The Santa Monica College art department had the opening reception for its annual student exhibit at the Pete and Susan Barrett Gallery at the SMC Performing Arts Center last Friday.

Various art techniques, such as paintings, sculptures and prints, were displayed at the exhibition.

"It's not just one medium, it's all the classes in the department," said Mirian Winsryg, the gallery director who has been teaching at SMC since 1987.

Winsryg said that it is important for students to have their work shown for others to see.

"In the art world, you want to have that experience," she said. "It's part of the experience of being an artist that you actually show your work. Otherwise, why do you make it?"

The faculty from the department choose at least two works from students in their classes to show at the exhibit.

For the last three years, the art in the showcase follows a specific theme. This year, it was Poverty & Wealth, Want & Waste: The Unevenness of Globalization.

Students who had work showcased in the gallery were present at the opening reception, and had lots to say of what it felt like to be a part of the exhibition.

"It's kind of surreal just cuz I've never had my work showcased in a legit gallery before," said SMC student Michelle Rhee. "It's nice to be a part of the SMC art community."

Brandon Otani, SMC student since 2006, has shown at the student art show before as a part of the Art Mentor program.

"It's cool to be on display again," Otani said.

Tara Gruchalski, 20, has been an art student at SMC for three years. She feels the art program on campus has helped her in a lot of ways.

"It really helped me kind of try to hone in on what I was good at, what my strengths were, what I needed to work on and what school I wanted to go to," said Gruchalski, whose work was on display last Friday. "It's been a really holistic experience."

Art department chair Ronn Davis said the program's objective is to prepare students to transfer to four-year colleges, as well as developing the skills of young artists.

"Our goal is to put you in a place where creativity is now an integral part of your everyday life," Davis said.

The next showing of student art will be the exhibition for the Art Mentor Program this June.

The current exhibit is open through May 25.