Worcester State students earn arts recognitions, experiential learning this winter

February 27, 2023
By: Andrea Binnick

A lesson in Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Professor Stacey Parker’s second-year art practicum on how to approach a gallery set a fruitful turn of events into motion for Libia Goncalves ‘26, an art major from Colombia who is one of several Worcester State students being recognized this winter for their work in the arts.

Goncalves, who notes English as her second language and made the Dean’s List for the fall 2022 semester, responded to the exercise in experiential learning by interviewing ArtsWorcester Administrator Sue Von-Maszewski. During their meeting, Von-Maszewski offered Goncalves a gallery membership, “which I accepted delightedly,” recalled the student. Upon becoming a member, Goncalves said that she began receiving emails from ArtsWorcester about upcoming shows and offerings, including an open call for art submissions to the 19th Annual College Show. 

Framingham State University’s Assistant Professor of Art and Mazmanian Gallery Director Ellie Krakow, the juror for this year’s ArtsWorcester show, not only accepted a submission from Goncalves for the exhibit, but also chose her work as one of only five pieces to receive a Juror’s Prize.

“Also, I found out that it was sold,” Goncalves said of her featured work titled “The Great Heron,” mixed-media art that leveraged a technique that she learned in Colombia involving foam painted with acrylics over a wood panel. 

“The Great Heron” and 54 additional works by Massachusetts college students are on display at the ArtsWorcester gallery located at 44 Portland Street through April 8. The 19th Annual College Show also features art by Alexandria Hensel-Courtney ‘22, a Worcester State Liberal Studies Major, and Hannah Rose ‘24, a Worcester State Occupational Therapy Major.

Hensel-Courtney’s work titled “Night & Day” is a dry-point print inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” made during her directed study in Intermediate Printmaking with VPA Professor Amaryllis Siniossoglou. Rose’s art titled “New Perspective” was part of a photo essay created for COM Professor Eric Nichols’ Digital Photography Class.

“In the end, the collection created an interesting critique on the concept of perspective in photography, as well as how that translates to life in general,” wrote Rose in an artist statement for the show. “This particular photo stood out among the others as it really captured how a slightly different viewpoint can present a familiar object in a less common way.”

The students’ ArtsWorcester recognitions come on the heels of 11 Worcester State theatre students’ trip to Cape Cod for the 55th Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 1. The event that ran from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4 in Hyannis brought together students from colleges across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Northeastern New York as they participated in a variety of programs involving acting, directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, theatre journalism and advocacy, design and technical theatre skills, and stage management. A keynote presentation by the Wampanoag Singers and Dancers brought students to their feet. You can watch the video here. https://youtube.com/shorts/X4p8-4fj_js?feature=share

 KCATF Region 1 recognized Worcester State’s Julian Wagner ‘22, a VPA Major, and Ariana Strout with 2023 Merit Awards for music composition and dramaturgy, respectively, for their work in Worcester State Theatre’s Spring 2022 production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” by Tom Stoppard. 

“Congratulations to so many Worcester State students being recognized this winter for their outstanding work in both visual and performing arts,” said VPA Chair and Professor of Theatre and Interdisciplinary Arts Sam O’Connell. “Lab-based, experiential learning is at the heart of what we do, so it’s especially wonderful and rewarding to see so many arts students – of a range of majors – advancing their work beyond the classroom and studio.”

The winter arts achievements are in addition to several Worcester State students and alumni showcasing work in “Interconnected: A Fiber Show” through March 18 in VPA’s Mary Cosgrove Dolphin Gallery. The exhibition of work by 61 area artists includes Worcester State students Libia Goncalves, Pamela Saffer, Laurie Schlatter, Asher Humrich, Adam Shenk, and Worcester State alums Veda Bleau, Shannon McGinty, and Nikki Huss-Howland. The show is free and open to the community on Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Gallery located in the Ghosh Science and Tech Center. Visit https://wsuvpagallery.weebly.com for more information.

Top photo: Libia Concalves at ArtsWorcester with “The Great Heron.”

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