WAG New Impressions 2 Jurors

New Impressions 2: High School Juried Exhibition The Jurors

Rhonda Franks

Portrait of a woman with long brown hair and glasses standing in front of a tree

Rhonda Franks (born 1974) is an Indigenous artist and designer living in rural southwestern Ontario. Her graphic design company, Baseline Creative, was conceived in 2010 and makes a perfect complement to her art, which focuses on the majesty of nature. It’s this professional combination that allows her to express and explore her creativity in a variety of ways, including painting, illustration, and design. 

Rhonda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Guelph and a diploma in Graphic Design from Mohawk College and has participated in several Masters Seminars with Robert Bateman. She is a Ducks Unlimited National Portfolio Artist and currently a Member of the Artists for Conservation. STEPS, a public art organization that facilitates public art in urban spaces across Ontario, is her most recent design project completed for the Tillsonburg BIA in the Town of Tillsonburg.

Juror’s Choice Award Selection: Calista, Beyond the Night

Juror’s Statement:

“I want to thank Stephanie Porter and the Woodstock Art Gallery for the privilege of jurying New Impressions 2: High School Juried Exhibition. It was exciting to see the variety and number of works submitted this year. The future of art is promising as we view the world through the eyes and hearts of the next generation of artists. This show is a great opportunity and learning process for all those who entered. While we would have loved to include them all, we had the difficult task of narrowing the selection. To do this, we looked at the impact of the piece, its attributes, as well as the artist’s statement, and the quality of the photograph submitted. In terms of selection, image quality and the artist’s statement are of paramount importance as it is the only means of communication between the artist and the juror.

A creative idea begins as a spark, a notion from a nugget of inspiration drawn from our lives, society, or hearts. Using paint, graphite, clay, tile, or any other multitude of materials, this idea is given form and substance. The tools of art are secondary to the idea that they convey. They provide shape and resonance to the artist's creative voice to express themselves. As a result, this show is a chorus of different voices, singing different parts, beautifully combining to create a score representing the future of art.”


Mike Pszczonak

Black and white photo of a woman standing in front of two artworks

Michael Pszczonak (born 1981) is an emerging artist based in London, ON.  He received his MFA from Western University in 2015 and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph in 2008. In 2019 his series of paintings, Refractor, were exhibited at Campus Gallery, Georgian College, Barrie, ON, and he recently had a solo exhibition, The Colour of a Window, at Michael Gibson Gallery in London, ON.

He has received numerous grants and awards, such as the Ontario Arts Council’s Emerging Artist Grant and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Grant. He has also been included in group exhibitions at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, McIntosh Gallery, Michael Gibson Gallery, Paul Petro Special Projects Space, and the University of Waterloo.  He currently teaches within the Fine Art Program at Fanshawe College, London, ON.

Juror’s Choice Award Selection: Filomena, Stippled Still Life

Juror’s Statement:

“Every art object requires both a maker and an audience. Making a work of art requires time, patience, labour, love, and passion for your craft. Making a work of art also requires an attribute that isn’t spoken about as much but is equally important: confidence. The confidence to know that what you are making is important, that you are not only making it for yourself. The confidence to know that the image or object will resonate with an audience; that it can spark everything from emotional response to philosophical discussion.  With that said, I would like to congratulate all students who took the time and have the creative spirit not only to create their work, but also who have the confidence and courage to put their work out into the world with the belief that it will resonate with people.

I was thrilled to be asked to be a juror for WAG’s New Impressions 2: High School Juried Exhibition and was delighted by the submissions. A detailed mushroom house made of clay, a feathered ceramic bowl, and an intricately stitched and painted longhorn cow on fabric are a few examples showing an interest in traditional crafts. A pencil drawing of a woman displaying the smooth transition of warm coloured highlights to cool coloured shadows, or the contrasting textures of chocolate and strawberries in a beautifully rendered drawing that makes you almost be able to taste the complimentary flavours are a couple of examples of works that exemplify an interest in technical ability. A clay plate painted with Van Gogh’s Wheat Fields, a Starry Night mosaic, and a George Seurat-style Pointillist rendering all display an early interest in art history. These ‘high art’ works were balanced by other students’ interests in everyday subject matter from a beautiful portrait of neighbouring dogs, detailed renderings of t-shirts, and pop culture references in a beautifully executed mixed media portrait of Tyler, the Creator.

World famous art critic Jerry Saltz once said, “Art is for anyone, it’s just not for everyone.” The diversity of work displayed offers a wide variety in both material processes and thematic interests that there is something for everyone to enjoy. To the students who were courageous enough to submit their work: Art is for you. It is yours. It can be the most frustrating, difficult, and exhilarating way of expressing yourself. But always strive to keep articulating and developing your voice so that you can keep your creative spirit alive. Congratulations to you all.”

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