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Rubin Center Exhibit Displays Top Student Artwork

Last Updated on May 10, 2021 at 12:00 AM

Originally published May 10, 2021

By Daniel Perez

UTEP Communications

Dilan E. Torres and Barron Wortham, studio art majors at The University of Texas at El Paso, earned the top prizes at the 2021 Annual Juried UTEP Student Art Exhibition that opened May 10, 2021, in the campus’ Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts.

“Casitas Fronterizas,” by Elizabeth Flores, a senior studio art major, is among the pieces in the 2021 Annual Juried UTEP Student Art Exhibition, which opens May 10 in the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. Photo: Daniel Perez / UTEP Communications
“Casitas Fronterizas,” by Elizabeth Flores, a senior studio art major, is among the pieces in the 2021 Annual Juried UTEP Student Art Exhibition, which opens May 10 in the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. Photo: Daniel Perez / UTEP Communications

Torres, a junior, won for “I Saw a Ghost in the Supermarket,” which was created with graphite pencil, charcoal pencil, Prismacolor and Conté Crayons. Judges recognized Wortham, a senior, for his oil on canvas painting, “Cruisin’.” Each artist will receive $1,000 for their work, which will become part of the Rubin Center’s permanent collection. Organizers announced the winners during a video announcement at noon May 10.

The two students were among the 71 undergraduates from the Department of Art who created the 131 pieces – prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures, metals, ceramics and graphic designs – during the 2020-21 academic year that fill the center’s Rubin and L galleries. The display will be up through July 30, 2021.

Approximately 450 pieces were submitted for consideration and judges selected the ones to include as well as the recipients of the various honors from the top prizes to several honorable mentions.

Planners have scheduled four invitation-only “opening nights” capped at 50 students from 4:30 to 7 p.m. through May 13 in the Rubin Center to accommodate smaller numbers of students and their guests to comply with the University’s COVID-19 protocols that include face coverings and social distancing. There also will be several hand-washing stations. Different art faculty members will host each reception. In addition to normal business hours, Rubin officials will open the gallery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 5, 2021. It may schedule other public events for this exhibit this summer.  

Kerry Doyle, the Rubin’s director, said that while the fine arts pieces will be displayed in the galleries, the graphic arts will be shown virtually for the most part because most of the student work was done online. Some of it will be projected in the display space.

Doyle spoke excitedly about the live event, which she called another step toward normalcy at UTEP. The 2020 event was conducted virtually.

“It was so nice to see the students bringing their artwork to campus,” she said. “It’s a big change to have students coming back to the Rubin Center for an exhibition with a reception to celebrate their work. Hopefully, it is a sign of what’s to come.”

Among the students whose art was accepted for the show was Jill Font, a senior studio art major who expects to graduate after the fall 2021 semester. The exhibit will include three of her pieces – two colorful and nostalgic pop culture oil on canvas paintings that harken back to the 1980s and ‘90s, “Hubba Bubba” and “Sweet Times,” and one sculpture that includes tattoo imagery, “Fortune Favors.”

Font, a California native who grew up in El Paso, said that she was grateful to be part of the show and looked forward to seeing her work displayed in the gallery.

“Seeing artwork online versus in person is not the same,” Font said. “There is an energy that is involved with seeing your artwork in front of you when it is on a wall that is lacking from the online experience.”

Jose Krapp, (pronounced “crop”) the Rubin’s exhibitions coordinator, said he was impressed with the variety of exhibit pieces. His job will be to present the art in the best way. He remembered what it was like to be part of the student show in the late 1990s when it was celebrated in the Fox Fine Arts Center.

Krapp, who earned his BFA from UTEP in 1998 and his MFA from New York University, said the competition generated stress, but overall, the event was fun.

“It was great to see what the others were doing,” Krapp said.

This year’s judges were Daisy Nam, curator from Ballroom Marfa, and Libby Morris, vice president of design/art director at Giles Design Bureau in San Antonio. Nam judged the fine arts entries, and Morris was responsible for the graphic design pieces.

David Griffin, professor and chair of the Department of Art, said he was pleased at the level of student participation in the juried art show, which reached pre-COVID-19 numbers. He said he looked forward to seeing the art and the artists during the various opening nights.

“I want to express my congratulations to all the students who submitted work for jurying,” Griffin said. “I have the privilege of viewing almost all the work prior to the judges and the strength of the work I am sure gave the judges a great deal to consider and evaluate. The margin of selection or not is very close and the margins I am sure are razor thin.”

Griffin also thanked the art department’s faculty, which he called talented, dedicated and exceptional, the Rubin Center’s leadership for its decision to conduct an in-person exhibition, and the gallery’s staff for its execution. He also praised the show’s art jurors for their contribution.

Click here to learn more about the Rubin Center to include its hours of operation.