No small crowd for annual favorite ‘No Big Heads’

The Student Union Art Gallery was crowded on Thursday, Dec. 1, at the opening of the 20th annual “No Big Heads” student self-portrait exhibition. An interesting twist made this year especially exceptional. Johntimothy Pizzuto and Patti Roberts-Pizzuto, the exhibitors of last month’s “Mapping Histories” show, were the jurors of this month’s self-portrait contest. It is possible to think back on the juror’s show while viewing the pieces exhibited and make links between their technique and taste.

Most of the student pieces are highly detailed. One example is “Little Red Wombanhood,” a delicately beaded harlequin-like sculpture, composed of cloth formed in the shape of a uterus, and a Xerox copy of artist Siobhan O’Hara’s face.

“I am usually a very traditional landscape painter and lean toward the more conservative art forms but it was nice to step outside the box,” O’Hara said.

Michelle Hayworth, gallery director, said she thought this year’s show has been one of the better ones from previous years

“The jurors have a great eye for craft and I am really pleased with the entries and what they chose,” she said.

Heyworth also contributed to the exhibit, and the jurors said they found her pieces striking, especially in the hive-like “Manifestation,” which appears to be at least partially inspired by Hayworth’s research into bees.

“There is a sort of pathos to the content of the image, the expression with its sense of anguish, and a tension in the use of the thread,” Johntimothy Pizzuto said.

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This is the first time the Pizzutos have judged a show together.

“We have similar sensibilities, there is a lot of cross-over, but then we really differ on some things. It was a very interesting process,” Roberts-Pizzuto said.

The jurors said they had difficulty selecting a winner.

“It was challenging to make choices about the awards, all of the pieces we chose were in one way or another very satisfying,” Johntimothy Pizzuto said.

Both jurors eventually agreed on Kenna Bates’ piece, an interactive three-dimensional wood sculpture. The piece, entitled “Distractions,” won best in show.

“The playfulness, the whimsical qualities are wonderful, every surface has been considered,” Johntimothy Pizzuto said.

Bates is a senior in the Bachelor of Arts program. She tediously crafted 32 blocks with letters and images on all sides. A note on her piece invites viewers to play with the blocks.

“I had an idea that the jurors liked detail, when you get close to the pieces you a rewarded for taking that extra time to delve,” Bates said. “I had a feeling that would go over well with the jurors,”

A juror’s choice awarded went to Carol Lambert for her oil painting, “Bowling Girl meets Giant Goose,” crafted with an “Alice in Wonderland” quality. The jurors commended the artist, responding to the unusual viewpoint and narrative quality.

“It just draws you in from across the room,” Roberts-Pizzuto said.

Overall, there was a balance between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art chosen for awards.