Emporia State art students were celebrated, Tuesday evening, as the Emporia State University Art Department’s Annual Juried Student Exhibition opened at the Emporia Arts Center’s Trusler Gallery.

The exhibition provides art students with an opportunity to participate in a professionally juried art show. This year’s guest juror is photographer Larry Schwarm.

Art Department Chair Roberta Eichenberg said having an outside juror was important because it separates faculty from the judging process.

“We do that so we bring an unbiased approach to it,” she said, praising Schwarm’s care taken during the judging process. “This is a great selection of all of the concentrations that we offer. ... Larry did a great job of selecting all of the work.”

This year, there were three winners chosen as the “Juror’s Choice” — the top prize during the exhibition. The winners were Elicia Aceves, Kat Weltha and Mirka Leyva-Gaucin.

Down the block at Trox Gallery and Gifts, another reception was being held — the Salon des Refuses. Eichenberg said this exhibition was artwork that was not selected by the juror, but still merited display.

“We do have some really strong students,” she said. “Something we’ve really been pushing is having them display their work more, and I think that’s one thing that’s really been helping them to get better. It’s different than seeing it at a critique; seeing it in a professional setting is way different than seeing it in a critique in class.”

EAC Gallery Coordinator Shayli Gentry said, as an ESU alum, she was excited to be able to host the juried exhibition at the arts center this year. Typically, the art is displayed at one of ESU’s galleries, but changes on campus due to COVID-19 caused one of the on-campus galleries to be temporarily converted into a classroom space.

Gentry said she was impressed with the pieces on display and the level of skill demonstrated by the artists.

“I’ve never seen clay quite like this,” she said. “The glassblowing pieces, I’m super impressed that we even have those right now — just with how glassblowing is done, it’s really amazing that it’s still getting to happen.”

Gentry said it was exciting to welcome people back into the gallery for in-person events again and to see their reactions to art as it happens.

“It’s very, very exciting,” she said. “First Fridays have been more exciting now because we’re having more people coming in to the galleries more. Me getting to see those people and the artists getting to see those people just makes it all worth it, because these shows take a lot to put on.”

Trox owner Kaila Mock agreed, adding that she looked forward to being able to being able to serving food and drinks.

“I’d love for it to be more of an event and for people to relax and have fun,” she said. “With Covid, it’s still people just coming in, milling around and moving on.”

Mock said this is her 13th year being involved with ESU’s juried student exhibition in some capacity, whether as a student or as a professional in the arts. Prior to opening Trox, Mock worked at the arts center.

“I’m really glad that it worked out that I could host the ‘Salon des Refuses’ here because I was pretty bummed when I left the arts center that I wasn’t going to be able to be a part of it anymore,” she said. “It’s been really fun watching the show evolve and watching how the students work over the years. You can definitely tell what professors are assigning and how those change over the years. It’s been really fun to see how all that changes.”

Both exhibitions will remain on display through April 30.

The Emporia Arts Center, located at 815 Commercial St., is open 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturdays. The gallery is free to the public.

Trox Gallery and Gifts, located at 729 Commercial St., is open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday.

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