“Fotowerks, Stick, and, Friends,” an annual exhibition of works by South Texas College art students, showcases an impressively imaginative and energetic collection of works.

The focal point of this exhibition is the collaborative sculpture, “RGV Mother Nature Self Portrait,” near the entrance by Rebecca Velasquez, Ana Lourdes Hernández Flores and Veronica Taiz Velasquez. It captures the attitude of the exhibition — whimsical, well-constructed and exuding positive vibes.

Artworks in this show are confident and honest, consisting of work done in classes during the 2017-18 school year, as well as some works done outside the framework of instruction. The exhibition was organized through student organizations such as the Ceramics Club and the Photography Club, with STC faculty members Scott Nicol, Chris Leonard, David Freeman and Kyle Chaput overseeing the event. The students selected the art works that are featured the show.

Awards were given to the following outstanding works:

First Place: “Dripping with a Hint of Color” by Rebecca Velasquez (large format photograph)

Second Place: “Stop Growing” by Casey Ramirez (graphite drawing)

Third Place: “Existentialist Night” by Elkin Cortez (oil painting)

Honorable Mention: “Light and Dark” by Javier R. Castillo (ceramic)

Velasquez’s photograph is exceptional in its use of various art elements and phenomena. It’s a simple, tier-based composition that harbors complex visualizations such as illusionism, extreme tonal contrast, complementary color sets and repetition through the image of a drip of water.

Ramirez’s drawing affirms that good art occurs from the intensity of personal emotions. His gentle image inspired by fatherhood is not only masterfully executed, but we feel the familial warmth from the minimal, yet admirably sufficient inclusion of shapes — the grip of the child’s hand upon the father’s thumb, its touch releasing a softly felt visualization of the heart along with delicate wisps of daffodils. On the same theme, Ramirez also shows a digital photograph, “Her Kiss,” that also heightens the emotions.

A separate grouping of drawings and paintings is identified as “Capstone” works. Outstanding in this group was “Masked Confidence” by Samantha Mata, whose concept speaks well of the level of instruction that this exhibition encompasses. Her group of three pastel drawings of the nude female body is impressive in the positioning of the figure, creating a contradiction of the contemporary psyche.

“Capstone works are by STC students who are graduating and developing a body of work,” Nicol said. “Capstone is like a Bachelor of Fine Arts show except that it’s at the sophomore level. One of the reasons that we have such diversity and good quality work here (in the Capstone group) is that this is not work from one class or one assignment; these students determined what they were going to make.”

The quality of work in “Fotowerks, Stick, and, Friends: Art developed Through South Texas College,” speaks well of the STC art faculty as well as the students’ efforts and abilities. This exhibit belies the assumption that first- and second-year art students cannot produce exhibit-worthy art.

“It’s one of the stronger shows we’ve had,” Freeman said.

And certainly, this show contains works that are well worth a visit.

Nancy Moyer, Professor Emerita of Art at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is an art critic for The Monitor. She may be reached at

WHAT: “Fotowerks, Stick, and, Friends: Art developed Through South Texas College”

WHERE: Kika de la Garza Fine Arts Center, 921 E. 12th Street, Mission

WHEN: Through July 7, 2018

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

CONTACT: (956) 583-2787

COST: Free