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Two TC Students Win 23rd National Arts Club Exhibition

Maria E. Richa and Sean Riordan, two master's degree students in the Department of Arts and Humanities, have won the 23rd Annual Student Exhibition at the National Arts Club, which was established in 1898 and has presented many firsts in the arts.

Maria Richa and "Wheels"

Richa won for her intaglio print, "Wheels," of machine-like boxes with wheels that she says, were "transformed into male and female characters." The print entails relationships and simple graphic creature-like objects. The background color of the print is a very deep blue and the ink is white. The wheels of the boxes are yellow and green.

Intaglio is a printmaking process where drawings are made on metal and ink is then poured on the metal to produce an image. The unique characteristic of intaglio is that the artist gets some very detailed lines and marks that are not usually associated with other printmaking processes.

The artist is still reeling from the award. "It blows my mind," Richa says. "When I walked into the gallery on the night of the awards, I was truly surprised that my abstract work won. It was competing against so many works that had strong elements of realism."

"I was proud," Richa continued, "that the judges broke with tradition and appreciated the work that went into the piece-not only because of its technique-but because of its conception."

Richa, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbus College of Fine Arts and Design, in Columbus Ohio, will be receiving her Master of Arts in Art Education at the end of the academic year and will be certified to teach in middle and high schools. Her degree combines a strong concentration in understanding the developmental disabilities of autistic children as well studio work. Her thesis combines her work on autism with her skills as a printmaker to advance her teaching in classroom.

Out of college, Richa taught printmaking to K-12 students with learning disabilities at the Mental Health Organization in Delaware, Ohio and the fundamental concepts of printmaking to adults at Color Wheels, an after school program in Columbus, Ohio. She also became a part-time instructor at her alma mater, where she taught and designed curriculum for undergraduates and advised junior and senior printmaking students.

Sean Riordan and "Terra"

Sean Riordan, who is also receiving his Master's in Art Education in May, is a "career changer," who worked as a fabricator in a metal shop and foundry, even taking on black smithing, before getting interested in education. His sculpture, "Terra," was selected as the other prize winner by the National Arts Club

Riordan, who graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, entered the Art Education Program as a part-time student three years ago. Now he is looking forward to teaching in a New York and is going through a rigorous student teaching experience at the Riverdale Country Day School in the Bronx. There, Riordan teaches studio art classes.

"I moved to New York with my wife when she entered TC's Science Education Program and I started working for a furniture designer," said Riordan. He added, "I just started to get interested in education and thought about a career change. I decided I didn't want to pursue a business in metal working because I've always worked as an artist, a sculptor. So it seemed like a nice marriage to continue to work with my skills and my craft and also to develop a new area in my life."

"Terra" is his conceptual piece about landscape. Riordan talked about what he was attempting to portray with his sculpture.

"I wanted to represent landscape in a sculpture," he said, "and relate it to my connection to the earth and to my ideas about the environment. But I didn't want to neglect my interest as a fabricator of metal. I used elements abstracted from the earth that are essentially at great cost to the natural environment. And so the piece is about these contradictions that I was personally engaged in."

Terra is a fifteen inch open black steel cube, built with mounted copper sheets. Riordan described it as "layers of highly textured copper that were treated with a chemical to produce oxidation and turn the metal brown-black."

Riordan believes his sculpture was selected because it showed a high degree of craft. He said, "I think the conceptual ideas resonated with a lot of people."

Relating about why he chose to be an art educator, Riordan said, "With art education, I'm opened to more ideas in my work and it's gotten me thinking in some exciting ways and adding to my experience."

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