Hidden Artists

Judy Bragg Pardo (right) explains her artwork to guests of the Hidden Artists Exhibit reception. Pardo said her works are highly influenced by Native American symbols. One of her paintings is titled "Adaptability," and displays a figure of a turtle. According to Pardo, the turtle is the symbol for adaptability in Native American culture. Photo by Colleen Longazel. 

On a gray wall in the busy main entrance of the John C. Hitt Library, colorful photographs and vivid paintings done by unlikely artists made some students pause to appreciate the artwork.

During the month of September, these Hidden Artists showcase their work for students in an annual exhibit. Most of the year, these artists can be found throughout the UCF campus: behind desks at enrollment services, the UCF Health Center, Student Legal Services and the library special collection office.

The group, comprised of 12 faculty and staff members, came together Thursday to host a reception at the library. The reception was originally scheduled for Sept. 7 but was postponed due to Hurricane Irma and the UCF campus closure.

Senior Art and Publication Production Specialist for the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services Judy Bragg Pardo founded the Hidden Artists group 10 years ago.

“We had to change the [reception] date but I’m glad that we are still able to show the art,” Pardo said.

Despite the rescheduling of the event, nearly fifty people attended the exhibit's reception. 

Gina Clifton, an admissions specialist for UCF Connect, has six of her photographs displayed in the showcase. She said that while she understands the reasons behind the campus shutdown, she is disheartened that students will not have the opportunity to view the showcase for a longer period of time.

“Irma closed [UCF] for a week so we probably have had fewer students seeing our display,” Clifton said.  

This is Clifton’s second year showing her artwork at the Hidden Artists Exhibit. She said that the natural world is a constant influence for her photography.

“I just love capturing what I see [in] nature,” Clifton said. “I think art is important because it inspires us. A sunrise is beautiful, but it also means that everyday has a new beginning and everyday has new opportunity.”

Library Special Collections and Archives Book Conservator Christopher Saclolo is new to the Hidden Artist group, and this is his first year displaying his paintings at the exhibit. He said he enjoys showing his creative side and finding support in his fellow Hidden Artists.

“Everyone here comes from a different background. Whether we are working in different departments or creating different kinds of work ... we all have a common intersect, which is to create work and show it,” Saclolo said.

Saclolo has three paintings on display, each one of an intricate pattern using vivid colors of blue, red, green and yellow. He said that his background was the leading motivator behind these works.

“The inspirations come from my Filipino-American heritage,” Saclolo said. “My parents were from the Philippines. I was born here but trying to create my own identity, I looked to my parents to see what kind of culture they grew up in.”

Saclolo describes his work as “autobiographical” because through his paintings, he has created his identity by weaving together patterns commonly found in the different parts of the Philippines that his parents are from. 

“It’s nice if it is pretty, but in the long scheme of it, I just want the work to have visual impact,” Saclolo said. “I think that it is approachable enough that when you approach it, you’re not thinking of the meaning behind it.  You’re thinking of the intricacies of the pattern work. Art is visual.”

One person whose interest was piqued by the colorful artwork was Srisaireddy Munnangi, a junior at UCF.  Munnangi stopped walking to take a quick photo of Hidden Artist Simona Loh’s acrylic painting titled “The Cows Are Coming Home.” 

The painting depicts a country road surrounded by cottages, but the main focus of the picture is the furry face of a cow in the bottom right corner.

“I like the cow one because it was interesting,” Munnangi said. “It [gave me] this real feeling inside. The cow was looking so cute.” 

Munnangi is from India where she says cows are considered a spiritual deity.

Though she is studying finance, Munnangi said that one of her favorite activities is painting. She said that she can tell the artwork shown in the exhibit was made with a lot of passion.

“These paintings are from people who actually love art,” Munnangi said. “Doing this sort of stuff puts everyone’s imaginations out onto paper.”

“I’m just proud of our artists,” Pardo said. “Some of them never exhibited before and you’re really putting yourself out there, whether people like it or they don’t like it. And if [people] don’t like it, that’s okay.  That’s what makes the world go round. [All] the different opinions.”

After nearly two decades of working at UCF, Pardo said that she plans on retiring at the end of this year. She said that she is certain the Hidden Artists Exhibit will continue to be put on after she leaves, featuring even more artists who were once hidden on the UCF campus. 

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