Yashuri Del Rosario Rodriguez

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University’s Lewandowski Student Gallery opened its doors to the public last month for its annual jewelry and metals exhibition, which drew artists from across the country.

The exhibit, which is organized by the Fine Arts Department, opened Jan. 28 and will run until Feb. 17.

The theme for the event is “[NOT SO] common objects,” which aims to “celebrate work made from or inspired by the common object, however the maker defines it,” according to the exhibition flyer.

Anne Fiala, an assistant professor of fine arts who helped organize the exhibition, said the event is one of eight student exhibits throughout the academic year.

Fiala said planning for the event began in August, which allows her to work alongside a group of “enthusiastic and fun” students to ensure the exhibit is ready for public viewing.

“The students posted a nationwide call for entry and invited a handful of professional studio artists,” said Fiala. “Winthrop student work was curated by myself and the students.”

Once the exhibits are ready to be installed in the gallery, organizers have “one week to complete the installation,” according to Nicole Davenport, assistant director of the Winthrop University Galleries.

Fiala said the skills that are acquired during the process of preparing the exhibit are essential to students’ professional and technical development.

Students worked during the last week of January to mount the wall display for the annual jewelry and metals exhibition at Winthrop’s Lewandowski Student Gallery (photo: Yashuri Del Rosario Rodriguez).

They are able to “experience, hold, examine and feel the work of people making a living from their work…(and their) standards of craftsmanship is elevated and their sense of exploration and experimentation is often kicked up a notch,” said Fiala.

Mariah Houser, a senior interdisciplinary studies major, has displayed her work in two different jewelry and metals exhibitions hosted by Winthrop. Her work entitled “He Hit Me & It Felt Like A Kiss” is displayed in the “[NOT SO] common objects” exhibit.

“The experience was fun,” said Houser. “I got to help prepare the gallery a few days in advance and attended our opening night, where I got to show my friends and some of my professors my work on display.”

As a student, Houser has access to the Fine Art Department’s studio, where she is able to create her jewelry designs. However, she will lose access once she graduates in May.

“I am very worried about losing access to a fully functional jewelry studio. There are no metals (or) jewelry studios in Charlotte, North Carolina where I can rent out desk space to continue my craft,” said Houser.

The galleries currently do not have a system to count the number of people who attend the exhibition.

However, attendance is recorded when people attend the opening receptions or participate on a tour. The space is also a high traffic area for students dashing to and from class in the Rutledge Building.

“Generally participation is stronger (at) the exhibition or event if the viewer is engaged with subject matter or the people involved,” said Karen Derksen, director of the Winthrop University Galleries.

The event also allows visitors to pick out their favorite pieces on display at the exhibition.

For example, Davenport said her favorite piece is a necklace created from recycled skateboards.

“I like the way (the artist) approached the materials and took something that would traditionally be thrown away – recycled skateboards – and made them into something new and exciting,” said Davenport.

However, for others, choosing a favorite is a difficult decision.

Fiala said she enjoyed a number of works in the show, including a piece entitled “Fresh Plastic” by Winthrop alum Tabitha Ott and work by Rachel Ness from San Diego State University.