That is the thought that kept running through my mind when I was asked by Ronni Rosenberg, Dean of the Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design, to guest curate an exhibition of student art work for Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus.
While I’ve always appreciated the role that art plays in making my world a better place, I have to admit that I’ve never taken an art class, studied art history, nor learned to distinguish with any sort of discerning eye what makes one piece of work more respected than another.
Sure, I’ve dabbled in photography. I may have even developed my own style. Over years of travel and playing tourist in my own city, I’ve come to know that I prefer shooting landscapes, nature and architecture over portraiture and I love taking pictures that zoom in on interesting details, angles, colours and perspectives.
It’s probably not surprising then, that I found myself a little out of sorts when faced with the daunting task of reviewing hundreds of pieces of art hanging in Sheridan’s hallways – everything from photography, to paintings and illustrations – in order to judge which pieces should be pulled together to form an exhibit.
“Just pick what you like,” offered Ronni. “Think of it as best in show.” Easy for her to say – she’s Dean of the Arts! While she kindly offered to walk me around and take notes, I politely said I’d be fine on my own – for fear of embarrassing myself when I pointed out my uneducated selections.
As I wandered up and down the halls and studied the pieces displayed in a number of corridors, I was pleasantly surprised to find how quickly my favourites emerged.
One by one, the pieces that spoke to my own style and preferences popped out. It occurred to me that maybe I was over thinking this whole task. After all, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? By giving myself permission to pick my personal favourites, instead of being worried about what a knowledgeable critic might think, I began to relax and started to enjoy my exploring.
By giving myself permission to pick my personal favourites, instead of being worried about what a knowledgeable critic might think, I began to relax and started to enjoy my exploring” – Christine Szustaczek
The final selection of 12 pieces represents a balance of different mediums, styles and disciplines. While the pieces might not be to your taste, I chose them for their textures, depth, techniques, colours, realism and in some cases because they piqued my curiosity or simply made me smile.
As I reflect on this opportunity, I can’t help but think that what I experienced by being pulled out of my comfort zone is probably not unlike the feeling that so many of our students develop when they have to learn new things. The beauty of art is that it challenges us to see things differently. That’s certainly what I gained from this welcome adventure.
Written by: Christine Szustaczek, Director of Communications and External Relations at Sheridan.