Passion, frustration, motivation

Annual show to highlight student work


Alyssa Smith

Sporting a shirt that reads “mud-slinging pyromaniac,” senior art major Denise “Mickie” Streets uses the pottery wheel as she works on a ceramic mug Monday in the Dowhie Ceramics Studio. Streets will have two of her ceramic sculptures shown in the Juried Student Art Exhibition April 3-May 1 in the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries.


Denise “Mickie” Streets will graduate this April with one of her sons.

Streets came from a family of painters, but failed art as a child because she wasn’t good at drawing.

A few years ago, she decided to go to college, where she discovered 3D art and her potential. She participated in the student art exhibition all four years.

The McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries will hold its annual Juried Student Art Exhibition April 3–May 1 to showcase student artwork ranging from paintings to sculptures. The university hires a non-university affiliated juror to select about 150 pieces of artwork from the 450-500 pieces submitted each year.

Streets submitted two ceramic sculptures into the gallery, both of which were accepted.

“It’s extremely stressful because you don’t know what (the juror’s) aesthetic is, you don’t know what their favorite medium is. You don’t know (if) they are going to prefer large over small pieces or paintings over ceramics,” the senior art major said.

Her first piece, “A Sin Against Nature,” depicts a sea turtle swimming through rusted pipes that were discarded in the ocean.

“I really love the environment, and I’m especially fond of sea creatures,” she said. “I made this piece in the hopes that maybe somebody will pay attention and someday our society will stop polluting the oceans and the only planet that we have.”

She made her second piece “Mocha Diffusion Mug” because of its challenging process.

After forming the mug on the pottery wheel, Streets used an acid-based slip called mocha diffusion tea, which ate through parts of the mug to form designs that look like trees.

“It’s a pretty difficult process in the ceramic world,” she said. “I was lucky that finally, after a few weeks of testing, I actually managed to find a method that works.”

Streets said her passion lies with sculpture, although she loves nature photography as well.

“I capture and document nature in our world because we’re destroying it at a very quick rate,” she said. “Some of these things that I like to photograph might not be around in my grandchildren’s generation for them to enjoy.”

One of the two pieces junior Triston Modlin-Filippi submitted made it into the exhibit.

The psychology major spent more than 40 hours working on “Transcendent,” an ink recreation of a Rosa Bonheur drawing of a bull, for a class.

He also painted a pair of Vans, which did not make it into the gallery.

“I paint and airbrush custom shoes and I think the concept was there, I just didn’t have enough time to put into them,” he said. “I had a lot of fun doing them and am satisfied with the outcome and at the end of the day, that’s what matters.”

In the future, Modlin-Filippi said he wants to paint customized motorcycles and cars.

Though he said art can be frustrating at times, he advises aspiring artists to let their successes motivate them.

“The most important thing is to believe in yourself,” he said.

Fast facts:

What: Annual Student Art Show

Where: McCutchan Art Center / Pace Galleries

When: April 3–May 1

Cost: Free