February 17, 2015
Sky Kalfus
Venus Photo credit: Justine Neuberger

For its eighth year running, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO) presents Excellence in Visual Arts awards to six outstanding art students from the Ohio region. And again, for its eighth year running, at least one of those students is an Oberlin studio art major. This year, seniors Sarah Lejeune and Justine Neuberger are the proud recipients. They were chosen from 27 nominees who hail from art programs at colleges and universities across the state. Each nominee was chosen and recommended by the faculty of their department.

This year’s artists were required to put together a portfolio, which was considered by the judges. “My work addresses tediousness and obsessiveness, in relation to femininity and nostalgia and memory,” says Lejeune. Her work is both painterly and sculptural. She works heavily with paper, which she sees as both a medium and a subject. “I see paper as a nostalgic substance both in its history and material physicality,” she explains. “I make grotesquely laborious and fragile work.”

Neuberger’s paintings are colorful and haunting, with dreamlike portraits of oversated subjects posing with cakes, doughnuts, pancake mix, and other rich food. “I juxtapose ancient and early Christian ideas about lust and gluttony,” she explains. “As a post-modern American consumer, I have experienced similar phenomena and participated in gluttonous behaviors. My easy consumption comes at the expense of withholding means of livelihood from other people.”

Both students worked heavily with the studio art department to prepare their portfolios. Lejeune received guidance and support from Associate Professor of Studio Art Nanette Yannuzzi, with whom she’s had a long-standing working relationship. “Nanette’s been very supportive,” says Lejeune. “She puts a lot of time into students who she knows are working really hard.”

Both students will attend a reception at the Columbus School of Art and Design, where they will accept their awards and participate in a panel discussion. The discussion will be held at 5 p.m. on April 8, and is open to the public.

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