Back in my day …, and SIE among upcoming shows at CIA

Alicia Telzerow, Connectivity Issues, cast resin, found wires, 2020.

Both an exhibition that highlights work by the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Class of 2020 and a show that represents one of the college’s most honored traditions can be enjoyed over the next several months in CIA’s Reinberger Gallery.

Back in my day

Among the CIA experiences sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was the annual BFA Exhibition, a weeklong event that includes two days of public viewing of art and designs created by graduating seniors.

Those capstone projects still were created, of course, and seniors still were able to defend their work virtually. But the missing exhibition was an opportunity lost—for students, parents and CIA community alike—so CIA leaders pledged to re-envision that opportunity.

That’s happening now via Back in my day …, on view through December 17 in Reinberger Gallery. However, this exhibition isn’t a “replacement BFA Exhibition.” Rather, it’s an opportunity for those alumni to share the work that’s meaningful to them now.

Among the participants is Glass alum Alicia Telzerow, who also served on a committee of 2020 grads that helped plan the show.

“What I really hope for this show is that the growth and talent are the focus, not what was lost in this past year-and-a-half. These are artists are out in the world practicing, exhibiting and challenging norms, and I think it would be a disservice to them to be reduced to the ‘lost BFA’ group,” Telzerow says. “It honestly was just another bump in the road; artists are used to the struggle. Our practices face far more difficult problems than the loss of a single show, and we overcome those because you cannot keep a maker from making. We always find a way.”

Reinberger Gallery Director Nikki Woods considers Back in my day … to be one of the gallery’s “most important and ambitious projects to date.”

“It’s ambitious in the sense that it aims to bring a graduating class back together to consider the importance of their connections,” Woods says. “Many lives have changed dramatically since the start of the pandemic. We want to be sensitive to that fact and present the gallery as a generative site for communicating new, exciting ideas, and most importantly, as a supportive space for artists and designers.”

In addition to enjoying the artwork in Back in my day …, Woods believes viewers will sense the fellowship shared by the Class of 2020.

“Artists rely heavily on their peer network, which for many starts in undergraduate school and continues into their professional life,” she says. “These students graduated in highly unique circumstances, which perhaps creates an even stronger bond.”

Telzerow agrees on the value of those connections. “Nobody does a better job pushing the boundaries than other artists; they know how to challenge you. They say things about your work that the average viewer is afraid to say, the things that get overlooked or taken for granted. I’ve really missed those interactions. I value the opportunity to show work in a physical setting, but more so, the connections I can revisit with my peers.”


Derek Walker, Wave Caps



Student Independent Exhibition 76

When then-sophomore Derek Walker’s Remain Myself won the Board Grand Prize and The Gwen Cooper ’63 Award in February at Student Independent Exhibition (SIE) 75, it was a big moment for the Painting major.

“Winning the Board Grand Prize brought me so much joy and held an immense amount of significance to me because I had never won an award with that much gravity before,” says Walker, now a junior. “Not only did it motivate me, it also inspired the people around me who believe that if I can strive to achieve something, they can too.”

Since SIE, Walker has built momentum. In June, his 30 Wave Caps was named to the 2021 AXA Art Prize exhibition shortlist, meaning it will be on view in November at the New York Academy of Art in New York City. And in August, his Gem in I and Astronoir were part of Snickers That Turn Into Livable Joy, a group show curated by alum Amani Williams for CIA’s Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery.

That dynamic—being among the first to see work by talented up-and-coming artists—is at the heart of what makes SIE such a popular tradition at CIA. Such will be the case again when SIE 76 is on view from February 11 to March 11 in Reinberger Gallery.

“People will be excited to see the work of emerging artists,” says Woods of this year’s show. “Much of this work is experimental in nature and is representative of the process of coming into one’s own.”

Walker intends to submit to SIE 76 new works from his three-year Divine Durag series—and hopes that work can debut there. Either way, he believes viewers will sense the inspiration felt by all of the participating CIA artists.

“I hope those who see SIE take away the beautifully complex ideas that have been brewing over the past year,” he says. “People are gradually starting to experience the world again, and I feel that’s the best source of inspiration for a creative exhibition like SIE.”

As they do every year, students oversee every aspect of SIE, from choosing jurors and mounting the exhibition to organizing an opening event and awards ceremony.

“My favorite part of this tradition is the fact that students have complete ownership over the gallery,” Woods says. “Students challenge traditional notions of what a gallery should be—and that’s a good thing.”








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