Radiant showcase title sign with Gia Wahle's Purchase Award winning porcelain piece "Perpetual Spring" featured on sign

More than 160 people attended the opening reception and awards presentation of the Art Department’s 2023 Spring Student Showcase, “Radiant,” Thursday night at the Saddleback Art Gallery.

"Radiant" features what Saddleback Art Gallery Director Barbara Holmes called “a diverse range of work that celebrates the unique artistic voices and perspectives of Saddleback students.” Saddleback art students submitted more than 140 works of art for consideration of inclusion in the showcase, with approximately 85 pieces making it to the final exhibit.

“This is my favorite exhibition of the year, because we get to see the student art presented in a professional manner in a gallery space,” Holmes said during her opening remarks at the reception.

Dean Scott Farthing also welcomed the artists and numerous friends, family, and patrons who attended the opening. Farthing praised all the entrants for their willingness to express themselves in a public forum.

“Each of the pieces in the show, and all of the pieces that were entered, represent bravery,” Farthing said. “Art is bravery, and resilience, and problem solving, because you’re showing part of who you are and opening yourself to critique, so I applaud all the artists and the faculty.”

Exhibits include drawings, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, ceramics, and design work, utilizing materials such as acrylics, masking tape, watercolors, stoneware, origami, chicken wire, alcohol markers and more.

Gia Wahle won the top prize in the show, the Purchase Award, selected by the Public Art Workgroup for her porcelain piece, “Perpetual Spring,” which greeted attendees on the showcase’s title wall upon entering the gallery (see photo above). Wahle, who worked with Saddleback art instructor Laura Haight, earned $1,000 for the Purchase Award.

Dr. Stern’s President’s Award and a $500 prize went to Teri Perlstein for her photograph, “Waiting.”

A trio of judges, including Heather Bowling, Director of Exhibits at John Wayne Airport, Evalynn Alu, Assistant Director at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, and Christine Lee, Artist-in-Residence at San Diego State University, had the difficult task of selecting winners in nine categories, plus a "Best in Show" award. The judges selected the following awardees, who each won $300:

Best in Show - Yoonseo Lee, for her "LA Landscape" created with acrylic, fabric, and string on canvas
Drawing - Maya Tellez 
Painting - James Gentile
Printmaking - Jessica Renich
2D Design/Color - Camille Eisenbise
3D/Sculpture - Emily Hendries
Jewelry - Syndney Tropila
Ceramics- Gia Wahle
Interior Design - Xiaoxiao Zhang
Photography - Saba Anoushahpour

Radiant runs at Saddleback Art Gallery through May 4; gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.