By Adriana Ruiz
Former art students James Woodard and Erick Salazar have been invited back by their former professors to showcase their most recent work in a joint exhibit titled Milieu Ditch/Nice Pictures.
Woodard and Salazar attended classes at this college in 2005 where they participated in the art program and were students of Professors Tom Willome, who is in charge of the exhibit, and Ed Rodriguez, who is the curator for the exhibit. Rodriguez invited the artists to showcase their work here because he believes they are good role models for current art students.
“We wanted a painting exhibit, Mr. Willome and I, that would provide good role models and examples for our current painting students,” Rodriguez said. “We had seen their work recently since they graduated at exhibits around town, and they seemed like a good combination.”
Woodard and Salazar have been active in the art community and had their work displayed at local art galleries such as the Lone Star Gallery, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum and the LuminArte Art Gallery in Dallas.
During their time here as students, Woodard and Salazar participated in annual art students exhibitions. Their art was recognized in different media such as photography, ceramics, sculpture, design, painting and printmaking.
Salazar and Woodard said they each had about 20 artworks that were selected to be in the student exhibits.
Over the years, Woodard and Salazar have taken the time to stop by and check in and build personal relationships with their former professors.
“I would stop by just to see how everyone was doing. If I got into a show, I would let them know. If I did something I thought was good, I would give them a headsup. It was just the fact that the lines of communication were kept,” Salazar said.
“Erick and I got to know the professors. They were our mentors and our peers,” Woodard said.
Rodriguez said he remembers his former students and art professors use some of their artwork as examples when lecturing.
“Aside from being successful alumni, they got their bachelor’s degree, and they are active exhibiting artists. So they are examples, and their work is good.”
After graduating from this college, Woodard received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio and Salazar received his from the University of North Texas in Denton.
Salazar said he thanks the educational foundation that he received from this college and credits his professors for teaching him everything he knows about art.
“They taught me everything I know from the ground up. I came in not knowing what a good painting would be,” Salazar said.
Woodard said he learned a lot from his professors and they helped him change his perspective.
“I learned to see the world in a different way; it informed my perspective on the world,” Woodard said. “They were tough, stern but fair. They would yell at you and they were jerks, but there was so much to learn from them.”
Now that both former students are graduated and have returned to their roots here on campus, they hope that their exhibit will spark an effect on students.
“I hope it inspires whether it’s good or bad. I hope people come in and say ‘man I don’t want to paint like this.’ Whether it’s good or bad, as long as it has an effect, then it’s successful,” Salazar said.
“Milieu Ditch/Nice Pictures” features non-objective, non-representational, abstract paintings by both former students.
There will be an opening reception from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday in the visual arts gallery.
This event is free and open to the public. The exhibit will be on display until Nov. 9.
For more information, call 210-486-1043.