Sam Fox School students featured in Varsity Art XXIII

Madeline Halpern, “Portrait of Sauce and Grave” (2018). Acrylic paint, oil pastel and clear pouring medium on carved pine panel. (Image courtesy of the artist)

Junior Ruoyi Gan and senior Madeline Halpern are representing the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis in Varsity Art XXIII. The annual exhibition, which opened March 1, is hosted by Art St. Louis and features work by undergraduate and graduate students from St. Louis college- and university-level art programs.

Halpern’s “Portrait of Sauce and Grave” (2018) is a mixed-media painting on a carved pine panel that both investigates and subverts notions of portraiture. “I consider my choice of substrate and style as a tool to examine and represent different degrees of someone’s personhood,” she explained. “I represent my subjects through an amalgam of their personal belongings. The result is a pair of nontraditional yet highly representational portraits of two distinct humans.”

Gan described her untitled video piece (also 2018) as a “cyclical collage of images” in which “broken layers of media are compressed into what Italian writer Italo Calvino described as ‘an identity fragmented into a powder of images.’” Elements of film, photography, Microsoft WordArt, karaoke, found images and social media “all contain in themselves varying degrees of identity and variable traces of what is the photographic medium.”

Art St. Louis is located at 1223 Pine Ave. Varsity Art XXIII remains on view through March 28. For more information, visit

Video still from Ruoyi Gan’s Untitled (2018). (Image courtesy of the artist)
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