Nursing graduate adds Student Art Show winner to her list of WCC accomplishments

April 5, 2024 Rich Rezler

Xiaoyan Cui's winning paintings



As she neared completion of the nationally recognized Nursing program at Washtenaw Community College, Xiaoyan Cui carved out a little time to further develop a long-time hobby by enrolling in ART 120: Portrait Painting and Life Drawing as an elective.

The results were award-winning.

Two watercolor paintings Cui created for that class – “Portrait of a Model Girl” and “Portrait of a Man Wearing Glasses” (shown above) – earned her first prize at the 2024 WCC Student Art Show.

Xiaoyan Cui“I am so grateful for being offered such an honor,” Cui (right) said following the art show open house and awards ceremony on Thursday, April 4. She says she has been sketching and painting as a hobby for many years, but benefited from the academic approach to studying artistic expression of the muscular and skeletal systems that affect the human form.

To claim top honors, Cui’s work rose above the 125 entries show organizers selected to appear in the exhibit. All entries were created as an assignment in a WCC Fine Arts or Digital Media Arts class. They remain on display on the second floor of the Student Center through April 15.

“Xiaoyan’s watercolor works capture intimacy and vulnerability with exceptional technique and clear understanding — and patience — for the medium,” said Jason Ferguson, a professor of 3D Media at the Eastern Michigan University School of Art & Design, who adjudicated the show. “The artworks go beyond a skilled exercise; the artist was able to present the essence of their subjects. These are beautifully executed poetic paintings.”

Cui graduated from the WCC Nursing program in December and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Nursing degree at the University of Michigan-Flint.

And, of course, she continues to sketch and paint in her free time.



Student Art Show judge Jason Ferguson has worked with numerous WCC students who transferred to the EMU School of Art & Design and says “it is immediately clear to me when I am working with a WCC alumnus because the skills and techniques taught at WCC are of the highest caliber.” And that, he said, made evaluating the work more difficult.

“I had to look beyond skill,” he said. “The award winners and honorable mentions that I have selected took their knowledge and skillset one step further. They took risks, pushed boundaries and expressed themselves beyond technical accomplishment.”

“It is clear students at WCC are learning how to express themselves through their work, and exploring a variety of ideas, materials, processes and concepts,” Ferguson said. “The work is very strong and every piece had noteworthy qualities.”



Graffiti Vase #93


Student: John MacLean

Entry: “Graffiti Vase #93,” ceramics

Class: ART 128: Ceramics II

Judge’s comment: “Although there were many wonderful 3D works in the WCC Student Art Show this year, John’s ceramic vessels, adorned with contemporary graffiti, stood out from the rest. This sculpture shows the beginning of a unique artistic voice; a visual vocabulary that can be simultaneously honed in technique and pushed in scale. John is a risk taker.”





Student: Raelene Hayes

Entry: “Self-Portrait,” digital print

Class: PHO 129: Black and White Digital Imaging

Judge’s comment: “This stunning digitally-enhanced photograph oscillates between feelings of distress and beauty. Raelene's selective use of blue in an otherwise black and white landscape creates a fever dream scenario. The artist made strong compositional choices with a slightly off-center focal point, dynamic linear branches that break up an overall concentric composition, and seamless layering. One's eye moves effortlessly across, around, and through the scene. It is easy to get lost in this work.”





Student: Judah LaFontaine

Entry: “Self-Portrait,” charcoal on paper

Class: ART 111: Basic Drawing I

Judge’s comment: “Judah's self portrait shows incredible skill for a Basic Drawing I class, and evidence of self-reflection, introspection, and all of the makings of a great artist. I see great potential here. Congratulations.”



Promising Artist, 3D


Student: Lucy Lawrence

Entries: “Balancing Act,” balsa wood and origami paper; “Lover of Osmanthus,” wire on teapot

Class: ART 108: Three Dimensional Design

Judge’s comment: “I was having difficulty deciding between these two works when I realized that they are both from the same artist. Lucy has shown a high level of craftsmanship, attention to detail, and dynamic compositional decisions in both of these works. They have exceptional 3D skills, I'm excited to see what they accomplish in advanced 3D coursework. Well done, Lucy.”



Promising Artist, Photography


Student: Aaron Smith

Entry: “Three Ladders,” photography

Class: PHO 111: Photography I

Judge’s comment: “Excellent use of geometry, contrast, and repetition. The negative space at the top of the image has presence and becomes as important as the architecture below. This is difficult to execute well. Wonderful composition, congratulations.”



Promising Artist, Animation


Student: Matt Welch

Entry: “Door 13,” animation

Class: ANI 155: Textures and Studio Lighting for Animation

Judge’s comment: “I have so many questions. Exciting work, great use of color and lighting to create an emotive environment. Fun piece, well done Matt.”



President's Choice


Student: Kelsey Meadows

Entry: “Dog-Headed Rhyton,” sculpture

Class: ART 121: Ceramics I

Selected by: WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca



Dean's Choice


Student: Luis Paez-Cano

Entry: “U of M Ross School of Business,” photography

Class: PHO 111: Photography I

Selected by: WCC Dean of Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences Anne Nichols



People's Choice


Student: Maia Burrell

Entry: “SOUL,” photography

Class: PHO 129: Black and White Digital Imaging

Selected by: Popular vote


Tags: Digital Media Arts, Fine Arts, Nursing, Student Art Show, Student Awards, Student Succes, WCC Student Art Show

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