Winning Projects by Student Artists

Rhode Island College Impact

Crossing between different styles and mediums, the work of four RIC art majors was recognized by both national and international galleries during the 2016-2017 academic year.

(From left, “Commitment,” by Mauro Decarvalho; “Self-Portrait in Green,” by Ashley Pelletier, “Pelvis,” by Alyssa Stuart; and “Untitled,” by James Sundquist.)

Painter Ashley Pelletier’s “Self-Portrait in Green” won for Best Representation at the Attleboro Arts Museum’s Members’ Exhibition. She was also awarded a $100 cash prize. Rembrandt is one of Pelletier’s major influences, known for reflecting a deep sense of humanity in his subjects. In creating “Self-Portrait in Green,” Pelletier referred to Rembrandt’s Baroque theatrical lighting to create a focal point. A transfer student from the New Hampshire Institute of Art, Pelletier gave a nod to RIC’s art department for helping to develop her as an artist. “The faculty here and the facilities are exceptional,” she said.

The sculpture of Alyssa Stuart caught the attention of Imago Gallery of Art & Fine Craft during its 2016 Open Community Exhibit. In recognition of her talent, the gallery asked Stuart if she would feature her work in an exclusive three-person exhibit at their gallery. Stuart’s work is inspired by the female body. She sculpts extracted parts of the female form using wood and steel. Her goal is to celebrate women’s beauty and to make social statements on women’s issues. An art education major graduating this spring, Stuart noted how she has grown as an artist due to the art faculty: “I got lost in my own work, but now I’m able to think conceptually and not just formally. I’m finally able to communicate my message.”

The 2-D and 3-D artwork of Mauro Decarvalho deals with popular culture, using cartoon characters as his subjects. Though cartoons have been separated from the fine art world, Decarvalho would like to change that. The piece pictured above titled “Commitment” is injected with the same wit and humor found in all of his work. Here, the cartoon character Tweety Bird, who is constantly pursued as prey by Sylvester the cat, swings contentedly in his cage. Beneath the cage is a ladder too short to reach the cage. The viewer is reminded of all the failed attempts by Sylvester to catch Tweety. “Commitment” leaves the viewer laughing while reflecting on the human experience. Through the encouragement of his art professor, Decarvalho applied for entry into a select exhibit at AS220’s Project Gallery. His work will appear this summer.

Four of James Sundquist’s paintings attracted international attention when they were selected for entry into the International Higher Education Art Institutions Youth Art Exhibition at the China Academy of Art. Of the 400 artists and 1,000 pieces exhibited, Sundquist was one of only three artists honored with the Outstanding Creativity Award. In creating his paintings/collages, Sundquist recycles old images to make new images – he goes dumpster-diving for paper. He also tears up his own drawings and photocopies his older paintings only to reintroduce them into new paintings/collages. For Sundquist, it was at RIC where he discovered that he was an artist. He had never engaged in art classes prior to enrolling at the college, focusing more on physics and math. He is now an exhibiting artist, and like the other students profiled here, he intends to make art his life.

Art Awardees
Clockwise from top left, Ashley Pelletier, Mauro Decarvalho, Alyssa Stuart and James Sundquist