April 20 – May 5, 2017

Mariani Gallery, Guggenheim Hall

Lecture by juror: Thursday, April 20, 3-4pm in Guggenheim Room 001A

Opening Reception & Awards Ceremony: Thursday, April 20, 4-6pm

This year’s Juried Student Show is a collection of student artwork in areas of printmaking, drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design, digital art, and photography. Please join us opening night in celebration of our students and their exceptional work this year.

Interview with Guest Juror Derrick Velasquez


written by K.Fahrenbruch

photo by Lauren Archuletta, for Westworld

Derrick Velasquez, Guest Juror

I love to attend UNC’s Annual Student Show. It’s always fun to see whose work was accepted, mingle with the students and staff and get some free food and refreshments. This year the Show’s opening reception is on Thursday, 4/20 at 4pm in the Mariani Gallery. And whether or not you submitted a piece to the show or were accepted, I highly recommend that you give it a shot! The show was jurored this year by Derrick Velasquez, a multi-media artist based in Denver. Velasquez is the Director and Curator of “Yes Ma'am Projects”, an Affiliate Instructor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, sits on the Tilt West Advisory Board as well as the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs and he is also a co-founder of TANK studios. I was fortunate enough to ask Velasquez some questions about his experiences and decision-making processes. And I thought I would share some of his answers with you, my fellow art students.

This year you are serving as the 2017 Student Show Guest Juror. Could you talk about this process? What curatorial considerations or criteria informed each of your selections?

This was an interesting process as the range of mediums was very broad and I would not consider myself an expert in something like illustration or graphic design. I combed through the submissions scanning all of them first once through, then went to sleep to really "sleep on it”. I woke up with a fresh mind and went back through this time actually selecting works. I ended up choosing fairly even among all the majors/mediums offered at UNC. Some of the main criteria I was looking for in this web based selection process was a sense of work. There are a lot of meanings of the word “work”, some of them being, how hard did it look like the artist worked on a piece? Hard work pays off. But also what in the work is doing the work? This is where the concept is driven home beyond heavy handed narrative. How hard is the work trying to ask questions as opposed to giving answers? I also appreciate a level of craft without using it as crutch.

What advice would you give students looking forward to a career in the Arts?

Work hard, be generous and kind, and good things will happen. Also show up to things. All the things and not necessarily to "network” If you aren’t social, this is ok because you can be present and inspect the work at openings deeply without having to talk to anyone or feel awkward. Eventually people will recognize you and then you can start a conversation if you wish. In my time in Denver I have never approached any curator or gallerist out of the blue. The encounters happened in more of a social or outside the institution kind of way. At some point, talk to the person who you are interested in starting an art relationship with as a friend. Artists, gallerists, and curators and museums love to hang out.

As someone who is interested in both creating and curating art myself, how have you found a comfortable balance between the two disciplines?

I’m not sure if balance is the right word. All of my opportunities have come through a combination of self-starting, application and reputation. Right now, I’m overbooked. Last month I opened a gallery in my basement to organize shows that I think would benefit the greater Denver community (self-starting). The MCA in Denver invited me to organize an exhibition in their Open Shelf Library that just opened two weeks ago (reputation), and I have a solo exhibition that will open at MCA at the end of May. I’m really a maker, so, I prefer to show my work. However, the rewards of "curating” feel incredible – what is better than creating an opportunity for another artist to have their first museum group exhibition or first solo gallery show? (even if it is in a basement gallery) I’ve also organized exhibitions by sending in proposals, like a show I created last September at Redline named Transforming Milk Into Milk. Relying on artists to get things done is always more work than making things yourself. I would know, I’ve been a terrible artist in that sense before. Pro tip: make life easier on curators and gallerists by having all your things in and done on time!

Could you tell me a bit about TANK studios: how it came into being, the other artists working there?

TANK Studios is a studio space that I helped start with a group of friends who were all exiting the RedLine artist residency at the same time. We currently have 19 studios and 20 artists at the space. It’s probably the best thing I have been a part of. Our community is strong and all of the artists in there are considered family. We don’t have doors on our studios which is to say the trust and care at TANK is stronger than any other space I’ve seen. I think we have the highest quality collection of artists in Denver where most of us are represented by the best galleries and all hold well regarded academic jobs in the best colleges in the city. The concentration of high caliber artists draws curators and gallerists to our space when they visit Denver and in addition, the sharing of knowledge, the ability to get critique and also the feeling when a whole group of artists is cranking late at night for major exhibitions is unparalleled in the region.

How/why did you choose Denver as your current base to live and create from?

I chose Denver through a process of elimination. I finished my MFA at The Ohio State University in the total crap of the economy, around November 2008, and was looking to leave the Midwest. I didn’t want to go to New York, wanted to avoid the South at all costs and wasn’t interested in going back to California, my home state. So this left the Pacific Northwest and Denver, a place I had visited once while driving across the country. Fortunately I unknowingly made the right decision by packing my car and driving to Denver and finding a cheap DIY art house to live in on Craigslist. I couldn’t have found a better city for what I was after – a friendly community, cheap living (at the time) and a place that would recover faster than any other city not named LA and NYC.

Velasquez will be giving a public artist’s talk on Friday, April 21, from 3-4pm in Guggenheim 001. He will be speaking more about his works and inspirations, as well as taking questions from the audience. I know that this time of the year is busy, as we prepare for finals, move out of the dorm or prepare for Graduation. But as Velasquez said, sometimes you just need to “…show up to things.”

Learn more about UNC Galleries