A new exhibition at the Stamp Gallery opened this week featuring artwork created by University of Maryland undergraduates.

The annual Juried Student Exhibition — a combination of paintings, drawings and sculptures submitted anonymously and selected for display each year — looks to capture student perspectives on a wide range of topics, from politics to health. 

This year, many submissions reflected a common theme: the human body. Joshua Shannon, the exhibit’s juror and curator, focused on synthesizing this theme into a cohesive collection of art ahead of the exhibit’s opening.

“So much of the exciting work turned out to have some kind of relationship to the body,” Shannon, a contemporary art history and theory professor at this university, said. “That wasn’t something I went into it expecting.”

Some pieces represented this theme literally, while others symbolically. Shannon was happy to see students use art as a way to understand a “stressful few years.”

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While the juried exhibition is typically held during the winter semester, construction on the gallery’s lighting fixtures pushed back delayed the presentation. The exhibition will remain on display until Feb. 24.

Krista Goettel, a senior studio art major, is one of the selected artists. She created an oil pastel portrait that utilizes bright colors to contrast the desolate expression of her abstract subject’s face.  

Goettel’s piece, titled The Gates, signifies mental and physical entrapment. She began the piece in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Goettel said her artwork elicits feelings of depression and anxiety, both emotions she grappled with at the time.

The piece centers on the subject’s eyes. The piercing green of the iris surrounded by pink and blue demands attention alongside rosy blushing cheeks on downturned lips. The Gates elicits a sense of discomfort in the audience. While brighter colors are commonly associated with happiness, Goettel’s piece radiates sorrow. 

Having a space to be creative has been vital for Goetell as she has navigated these emotions. A signature part of her style comes from transforming her life experiences into art, she said. Graduating from high school in 2020, Goetell never got a senior art showcase or the ability to take AP Art like she wanted to.

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“I never got to show any of my work and we had no way of making that up, so that was a really big loss for me,” Goettel said. “The time period really just made me produce more art and drill further into my emotions to create more works.”

Maintaining this creative space is also important to Caitlin Yan, a sophomore computer science and studio art double major whose piece was also selected for the exhibit. Yan’s piece is a photorealistic charcoal drawing of flying geese. To Yan, these geese represent fluidity, movement and freedom.

Photorealistic drawings are typically constrained by immense detail, an idea Yan wanted to juxtapose with the movement of the geese.

“There’s a lot of art that’s extremely detailed that people don’t necessarily feel as drawn to because it can kind of lose like emotion or feeling,” Yan said. “There is this feeling and movement [in my piece], but also that there’s a sense of technical skill.”