Therese Basha Jarjoura’s love of art has led her on a winding path through the Washtenaw Community College class schedule. And awards seemingly follow with every new experience.
Her latest foray is ceramics. That resulted in her latest award: top prize at the 2022 WCC Student Art Show for a stoneware entry titled “Doorway.” All entries in the student art show are created for a WCC Fine Arts or Digital Media Arts course with winners chosen by a professional artist.
This year’s show was adjudicated by Saima Mohammad, an assistant professor of graphic design at Wayne State University who practices her design work at Pakmode Media Group in Ann Arbor.
Mohammad, who has taught and attended classes at WCC in the past, said she considered technical craft, individual expression and other special qualities while judging the show. Above all, she said, she awarded pieces that “hold up as interesting and unique work outside of the context of a classroom.”
When announcing “Doorway” (right) as the overall winner, Mohammad said: “I was instantly drawn to this piece as it made me feel homesick for a place that I didn’t know. There’s something about the handicraft that gives it a coziness that wasn’t expected and the architecture of this home has qualities that are mathematical and organic.”
Jarjoura was born and raised in Nazareth and lived in Italy, studying architecture and dabbling with painting before moving to Ann Arbor nine years ago. She saw art as a way to become involved in her new community, so she began taking painting classes.
“WCC has become like a second home for me,” she said. “I am an artist that can’t stick with just one kind of art or medium. Doing art is more than mimicking what you see; it’s about getting engaged with your feelings, heart, eyes and hands. This makes your piece unique, even if you are not fully satisfied with the result.”
Jarjoura’s first love resulted in her first WCC award. Her acrylic-on-canvas abstract painting titled “Bridging” won first-place in the 2018 Student Art Show. A similar painting would later sell for more than $11,000 at a charity auction and another was selected for an exhibit outside the Rockefeller Center in New York City.
She said this year’s winning entry, “Doorway” – created in ART 128: Ceramics II – was an “unexpected surprise” born from clay scraps left over from another project.
“I started putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle and, with that, the image of a cute house materialized,” she said. “That connected me to a poem I wrote a couple years ago about a peaceful home.”
Jarjoura experimented with different glazes and used a new stoneware firing technique to include an inscription of her poem, which appears in Arabic. A translation:
A pen drew a house on a sheet
Hope, saw it and couldn’t sleep
A bird resting on the branches
A swing painted on its walls
Kids are laughing
Their voices like melody
Knocking on its
big fancy door
Open the door, please,
Before I go to sleep
I don't want all this to be
A dream …
The prize for first place in the student art show covers three credits of tuition. That’s ideal for Jarjoura, who’s eyeing even more subjects on the WCC course schedule … and maybe more awards.
“Art is a never-ending journey,” Jarjoura says. “Keep taking classes!”
MORE ART SHOW WINNERS
Student: Andrea Rose
Entry: “Master Study,” collage
Class: ART 102: Color
Prize: $200 art supplies/book store credit
Judge’s comments: “This artist clearly knows their way around color because the color combinations and transitions on both (student art show entries) were lovely and so eye-catching. Ultimately, ‘Master Study’ took the cake due to the intricacy of the design and the color composition.”
Andrea’s comments: “I was reluctant to submit artwork into the student show because of my age and experience, but I know that the exposure of class work is a testament to the teachers here and their curriculum. I had never taken a class based solely on color and Jill Jepsen was a wonderful instructor. WCC has always provided a superior educational experience.”
Student: Galina Wachs
Entry: “Peace Bomb,” 3D digital print
Prize: $100 art supplies/book store credit
Judge’s comments: “As we move into Year 3 of the pandemic, we often dream about simpler times, being in a state without constant stress and worry. This digital painting feels like that dream. It captures the moment so well I’m transported to this place and can almost feel the grass underneath.”
Wachs’ comments: “If humans are at the point where weapons of mass destruction have been created, then the game has already been lost way before the threat of fingers on buttons. I tried to represent that by showing the missile fuel leeching into the ground and air and killing the Earth before it can even be launched. [Art] allows people to connect with each other in the most pure and transcendental way.”
PROMISING ARTIST, FINE ARTS
Student: Marissa Harris
Entry: “Dwelling #36,” graphite drawing
Class: ART 111: Basic Drawing
Prize: $50 art supplies/book store credit
Judge’s comments: “I was so blown away by the level of intricacy and detail in this drawing. When I saw this piece, I couldn’t believe it was from a Basic Drawing class. This artist has an incredible amount of potential in drawing.”
Harris’ comments: “I am very thankful and happy to have won this award. I would also say it is reassuring because I almost didn't major in Fine Arts, or art at all. For a while, I was planning to major in Criminal Justice. This award reassures me that I chose the right major. To me, art is the most beautiful way to communicate.”
PROMISING ARTIST, DIGITAL ARTS
Student: Tyler Ferrell
Entry: “Covid 19: My perspective,” video short (Starts at 16:50 mark of the WCC Digital Video Art Show Reel.)
Prize: $50 art supplies/book store credit
Judge’s comments: “This short can speak to pretty much everyone, as we all lived through that phase of the pandemic where there was so much chaos and isolation at the same time. It was, and continues to be, such a unique time in history and this short captures it very well.”
Ferrell’s comments: “I love that this project has done so well. Art’s value in my life generally is quite high.”
(Selected by WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca)
Student: Bob Rickman
Entry: “Bridge to Evening,” analog film photograph
Prize: Professionally framed and displayed on campus for one year
Bellanca’s comments: “What a perfect title for this image that so captures hope and wonder. As you gaze to the other side of the bridge and picture yourself walking across it you can’t help but think of all the possibilities awaiting you – the adventures, the joy, the peace, the beauty.”
Rickman’s comments: “To me art is as essential as is air and water. I use my work to point out all the beauty around us that, as we get caught up in our daily lives, forget to stop and drink in with our senses.”
(Selected by by WCC Dean of Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences Scott Britten)
Student: Nathan Schubert
Entry: Untitled, ceramic vases
Class: ART 121: Ceramics
Prize: Displayed on campus for one year
Britten’s comments: “I chose these because the natural, organic shape of the pieces was appealing to me, and I found a tension between that natural shape and the techne of the casting process that was very engaging, and yet totally natural. The two pieces together communicate an intention.”
Schubert’s comments: “Countless hours were spent preparing everything that went into the final piece. I don't think many people realize how much work can go into making a simple cup, vase or bowl. [Art is] invaluable to me, it records the history of events and emotions, it is political, functional, thought provoking, therapeutic and healing. It is so many things, to me and to culture in general.”
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD
(Selected by popular vote)
Student: Marissa Harris
Entry: “The Runaways,” charcoal drawing
Class: ART 122: Basic Drawing II
Prize: Professional framing of work
Harris’ comments: “The project was a still life with an imaginary object. I chose my imaginary object to be two mannequins peeking out from behind an object as if they are hiding from the viewer. I like the idea of a viewer being able to interact with the piece rather than just observing. The search for the mannequins just added another layer of interest to me when creating 'The Runaways'."
View the WCC Student Art Show Awards Video, with comments from WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, art show judge Saima Mohammad and WCC Dean of Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences Scott Britten.