There are student art projects, and then there are Ringling student art projects.
Each spring, the college, famous for its Pixar and DreamWorks alumni, showcases student artwork selected by a panel of professional artists from all over the country. The show, simply titled “The Best of Ringling,” is the school’s version of the Academy Awards, and although the exhibit includes more than 75 animated short films, it’s less comical than one might expect from Sarasota’s animation institution.
Like the Oscars, there’s hype, drama, speculation and tension surrounding the year-end exhibition.
And, let’s not forget the labor-of-love element. Behind almost every creative impulse at Ringling College lies a personal tribute or transformation.
Take Hadar Pitchon, for example. A senior photography and digital-imaging student, Pitchon, 22, was so inspired by photographer and model Cindy Sherman’s character portraits that for a week he retreated to the same North Tamiami Trail motel to shoot a series of steamy portraits of himself dressed as different women — wig, pantyhose, high heels and all.
Or Mikaela Williams, a fine-arts junior, who was motivated to sculpt her head out of paper after she fractured her skull last summer riding a motorcycle through Titusville.
Or junior Michelle Fisher, who took black-and-white 35 mm photographs of her 16-year-old brother whose congenital malformations have kept him in and out of hospitals for years.
“It’s the first time I’ve gotten so personal with a family member,” says Fisher, 20, whose work was also featured in 2007 and 2008. “‘The Best of Ringling’ is a big deal. As a student, it’s nice to know all the sleepless nights have paid off. You feel like it was all worth it.”
IF YOU GO
The Best of Ringling runs through May 8, at the Selby Gallery on the Ringling College of Art and Design campus. For information, call 359-7563 or visit www.ringling.edu/selbygallery.