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MFA candidate wins national art competition, sells work, captures attention of renowned curator

When Claire Girodie ’11/’14 enrolled at Towson University, she had never taken a painting or drawing class. Now, a few months from completing her M.F.A., she’s an award-winning National Wet Paint MFA Biennial 2014 artist with an exhibit right here at TU.

"Carmine" by Claire Girodie National Wet Paint MFA Biennial 2014 Award winner Oil on canvas book pages 60" x 48"

“Carmine” by Claire Girodie
National Wet Paint MFA Biennial 2014 Award winner
Oil on canvas book pages
60″ x 48″

Girodie moved to the United States from France, where she’d studied business and physics.  After arriving at Towson to complete her degree, Girodie took an art class. It changed everything. She earned a B.A. in Art and Design, majoring in painting, drawing and printmaking. Still, she never thought she’d enter a national art competition.

That is, until the director of of the M.F.A. in Studio Arts program at Towson sent her information on the National Wet Paint MFA Biennial 2014, and encouraged her to apply.

She was one of two winners—and actually sold her work to a Chicago art collector the first day the exhibit opened.

“Winning was a total surprise,” says Girodie, “and selling the painting meant a lot.”

Wet Paint 2014 is an outlet for the top MFA painting programs in the country, from institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia University, Parsons School of Design, Washington University and more. The name refers to the fresh group of artists—M.F.A. candidates and recent degree recipients whose paintings have never been exhibited on a large scale before. The contest is highly competitive, and entries are on view at the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago.

The Chicago exhibit closes Saturday, but Girodie’s work is on display at Towson University as part of the M.F.A. Art Exhibition in the Center for the Arts Holtzman M.F.A. Gallery through May 10.Her exhibit there is entitled “Argument from Silence,” a term borrowed from legal trials, referring to things presumed but unsaid.

Her exhibit features small and large works that include “#2,” an 8’x 10′ oil on canvas portrait. Girodie takes photos of her subjects for reference, focusing on their gaze as she creates her final piece. Girodie says she hopes viewers wonder what her model is thinking and eventually reflect on themselves.

The exhibit also includes “Resonant Whispers,” a collection of small works designed to provoke viewers’ feelings and make them question what they see. The subtle works use shadows as drawing elements. Some of the works are three-dimensional, using mixed media of paper, ink, charcoal, water soluble fabric and thread. Girodie wants the viewer to gain their own dimension and interpretation as they view her work.

Girodie plans to finish her M.F.A. in May. She hopes to keep exhibiting and become an instructor. She says she loves the energy she gets back when she teaches.

Meanwhile, she’s enjoying her unanticipated success. Chicago’s exhibit curator, Chuck Gniech, wants to include her work in a traveling art show titled “Breaking Criminal Traditions.”


Wet Paint 2014 is juried and curated by Sergio Gomez, MFA a recognized visual artist, designer, professor, entrepreneur and curator/director of exhibitions at the Zhou B. Art Center.  He has curated and organized exhibitions in the United States, Mexico, Austria and Italy. The Zhou B Art Center is a private, non-government funded art center designed to facilitate the exchange of contemporary art between Chicago and the International art community. The Center was founded in 2003 by the world renowned artists, the Zhou Brothers.  More information at www.zbcenter.org.




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