Whose Art is it Anyway?

Rebecca A Eckland
Student artwork created in the Portfolio Emphasis class on display in exhibitions on and off campus

From top left to right: Artwork by Rose Barry, Luke Ramsdell and Mona Al Saglab. From bottom left to right: Artwork by Tenessa Melvin, Apolinar Chavez and Yung Dactyl.

As it turns out, there’s a difference between existing in the world as a student, and as a professional. Perhaps there is no discipline where this is more true than art, where the perspective of one’s own potential—and the expectations held by an audience—shifts dramatically between the two. For students in Professor Candace Garlock’s Portfolio Emphasis class, however, the journey from student to professional is a personal journey, and it’s one that becomes about more than just the art.

Four of Garlock’s students will exhibit their work in the main gallery on the Dandini Campus Dec. 8–Jan. 16, with an opening reception on Monday, Dec. 10 from 4–6 p.m. The theme of the exhibition, “Whose Art is it Anyway?” hints at the way these artists have developed their work: creatively, collaboratively and in the artist’s community.

Learning to Love What you Do

Tenessa Melvin, a student in the Portfolio Emphasis course, admits the class is difficult. Her work, which seeks to offer an audience the uncertain narrative of human relationships, and the imposition of the self across these emotional landscapes, traverses personal experiences. Melvin utilizes a collage technique involving mirrors to invite the audience into her work. “People create many bridges that can easily be broken. In this body of work, mirrors are shattered and broken reflections become a part of the artwork.”

The camaraderie developed by the demanding workshop-style and fast-paced class enabled Melvin to explore such a deeply personal topic. “That’s what artists do,” said Professor Garlock. “It takes a lot of courage, but a true artist observes society and personalizes what they see. An artist has to be vulnerable to create strong art.”

Rose Barry, whose work is also a part of the on-campus exhibition, early on struggled with her decision to pursue art as a profession. “I was super insecure about it at first… I didn’t think it was the best career choice,” she said. “But, now I feel courageous about my art decision.” Barry, who wants to increase the visibility of her work in the community, is embracing her art as a profession. “I make sure I’m posting on my blog every day, so I build my online presence. I keep telling myself this isn’t a hobby; it’s my job. And that you’re allowed to love what you do.”

Barry and Melvin are joined by two other Portfolio Emphasis students, Luke Ramsdell and Mona Al Sagab, in the on-campus exhibition that will hang until Jan. 16, 2019.

Exhibitions in the Community

Three of the seven Portfolio Emphasis Students are holding Exhibitions in the community. “In the past, we had more student art in the community than we do this year,” said Garlock, who continues to utilize field trips and other events to encourage her students to get to know the Art Community in Northern Nevada.

“Work experience through volunteering can build your resume,” said TMCC Galleries Curator and Instructor Aimee Kelly, who also teaches the Introduction to Gallery Practices class. Art is only partially about the work; it’s also about getting to know the people and places in your community. This is what the Portfolio Emphasis class learns as the “business side of art.”

TMCC student Joey Kelly, aka Yung Dactyl, is holding an exhibition of fourteen of his acrylic paintings at the Historic Lake Mansion and Garden Pavillion. Dactyl, who is working toward his Associate of Fine Arts Degree, is creating portraits of other students in the Portfolio Emphasis class. Yet, these are more than portraits; they are impressions that rely heavily on symbolism. “Many individuals create a guise of themselves based on their audience, whether it be their persona on social media, a stretch of personality to impress someone else or their true self,” his artist statement reads, “I explore elements and factors [conveyed] by each of my subjects.”

The Portfolio Emphasis class, which ends with this series of exhibitions, imparts to its students that professional, working artists are a part of the world, not a part from it. It’s a brave thing to be honest, and maybe a little scary to put your life on canvas or mixed media and hang it somewhere visible, but that is what the profession demands.

All the Details:

  • Colton Meals “Love Letters from the Milky Way” The Potentialist Workshop Dec. 1–7, 2018. Closing Reception on Dec. 7 from 6–9 p.m.
  • Apolinar Chavez, “Synesthesia” The Potentialist Workshop, Dec. 10–16, 2018. Artist Reception: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 6–8 p.m.
  • Yung Dactyl “Extort Portfolio Emphasis” Historic Lake Mansion and Pavillion. Exhibition and Reception Tuesday, Dec. 11, 5–8 p.m.
  • “Whose Art is it Anyway?” Main Gallery, Dandini Campus. Featuring the work of Rose Barry, Mona Al Saglab, Tenessa Melvin and Luke Ramsdell. Dec. 8, 2018–Jan. 16, 2019. Opening Reception: Monday, Dec. 10, 4–6 p.m.