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Student Honors Exhibition celebrates art of Shepherd students

By Staff | Mar 6, 2020

Paul Marino, of Shepherdstown, analyzes the Best of Show piece of art, "Desecration of Venus," at the exhibition opening reception on Feb. 24. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Feb. 24, Shepherd University’s Phaze 2 Gallery announced the winners of its annual Student Honors Exhibition. The exhibition will be open through March 12.

According to Phaze 2 Gallery Director Evan Boggess, the exhibition was open to any Shepherd University students, who could submit up to three pieces of art, for the cost of $5 each. Because of the exhibition’s proximity to the university’s midterms exam week, the exhibition drew less entrants this year, but Boggess said he believed the challenging entry time frame led the most talented artists from the school to submit their best work.

“We unfortunately had to have the whole thing during midterms, due to the scheduling of other artist exhibitions,” Boggess said. “However, I think we got the better work submitted, because of the timing. So even though it was a lighter submission this year, the work was not diminished in any way.”

Boggess said the show typically attracts between 150-200 entrants, and only drew 70 entrants this year. His conjecture about the quality of the submissions may have been correct, as the winner of this year’s event, whose work was blindly selected by a different juror than at last year’s exhibition, once again won the best of show award.

“Lauren Koch, who is out of Frederick, Maryland, was the juror for this year’s exhibition. She tried to see what each artist was trying to say, and analyze how well they accomplished that in their work,” Boggess said. “We try to get somebody new, outside of the university, to do this every year. It gives the students an extra perspective on things, as the juror looks at their work from the perspective of a professional artist, with no knowledge of the student behind the work.”

Shepherd University painting professor Sonya Evanisko, right, talks with Best of Show winner Karla Arrucha, following her win at the Phaze 2 Gallery Student Honors Exhibition on Feb. 24. Tabitha Johnston

According to Boggess, previous exhibitions have featured awards within specific categories, such as graphic design, sculpture or painting. Due to the light number of submissions for this year’s exhibition, the prize money, which was collected from the submission money, was divided between three winners in a general category. The best of show winner was Karla Arrucha’s “Desecration of Venus. The first runner up was Leighann Hengemihle’s “Retail Therapy.” The second runner up was Nevada Tribble’s “Playing House.”

While Arrucha may have already won the competition last year, she may have viewed that as beginner’s luck, as it was her first time submitting her work.

“I didn’t anticipate winning again — there’s a lot of good work in this exhibition,” Arrucha said, mentioning her piece was part of an unfinished series discussing femininity. “Women get these gender roles and this series is about how those roles have been going on for such a long time.

“All my work focuses on femininity. I was raised in a prominent female household, so all of my work is focused on it,” Arrucha said, mentioning her award money would be used to create more artwork. “I finished painting this piece four months ago, so it’s a pretty recent piece. I have completed the series as far as I can right now, but it is still in progress.”