Marielena Ferrer, an MFA sculpture candidate at SUNY New Paltz, was one of the winners of the 2023 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. Her success reflects the importance of the arts at SUNY New Paltz and reminds students to take advantage of opportunities on campus.
Paintings, oil pastels and prints are some of the mediums that decorate the halls of Smiley, the art building on campus, one of the few dedicated to helping students foster their artistic aspirations. Inside, students work closely with faculty to create pieces and cultivate their skills. The art program on campus has been the conduit for many students’ achievements and awards.
Marielena Ferrer, an MFA sculpture candidate here at SUNY New Paltz, was recently awarded the 2023 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. Her piece, Broken Monarchs, was chosen from a pool of 182 student submissions. The piece is an amalgamation of materials: tissue paper, chicken wire, acrylic ink, neodymium magnets, fishing line, paint and steel.
Referring to it as the “piece” feels diminutive. The variety of hanging clusters of monarchs, whose vibrant colors are stark, create a visually dynamic installation. The sculptures were displayed this past week at the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts.
The award was given by the International Sculpture Center, self-defined as “a member-supported nonprofit organization founded to advance the creation and understanding of culture.” The center promotes diversity, both in its pieces and artists. It “strives to build a culture of belonging by actively inviting participation and contribution from everyone.”
Ferrer was supported by faculty sponsors on campus, affirming the importance of professors in and out of class. SUNY New Paltz is a liberal campus placed in a small town defined by its artistic quaintness. As such, there are opportunities for art students to get involved and create much-needed connections. Art students can find resources and support through professors and peers, through in-class critiques and events.
Oct. 19-21 is dedicated to the art community at SUNY New Paltz, titled “Composium,” a three-day symposium hosted by SUNY New Paltz’s MFA sculpture program. As SUNY New Paltz Sculptures’ Instagram states, “COMPOSIUM features speakers, workshops and an exhibition.” The event, which is free and open to all, is an example of the benefits of studying art in New Paltz. Furthermore, on Oct. 26, studio art classes will be suspended in favor of working with art students independently to help them with their projects. It’s a day dedicated to offering assistance to aspiring artists.
After the swell of excitement surrounding the Sound Your Truth! event, the reminder that SUNY New Paltz is a campus known for its unique, artful, atmosphere lies in the student reaction to these kinds of events, demonstrating that, to the campus and community, the arts are still relevant and efforts to uplift artists are important to collegiate education and atmosphere.
Local successes of artists like Ferrer serve as motivation for other art students here at SUNY New Paltz and remind students, whether freshmen or MFA candidates, that there are avenues for success and for the college as a whole, that the triumphs of fine arts are a triumph for the entire New Paltz campus.