Ahem… student artwork on display

By Steve Coons, Red Pulse Writer

Perceptive students have probably already noticed the giant, 40-foot, candy and pin-covered wooden arrow resting on the concrete between OSH and the Marriott Library. A few of the more enterprising have also probably noticed that the path suggested by the arrow leads through the art building, which just so happens to be hosting the art department’s annual student art show, a juried exhibition with artwork selected from a pool of more than 200 entries from students in the art and art history departments.

Of course, there is writing on the arrow8212;”Ahem…Student Art Show”8212;that might lead students to the art building in a less roundabout way, but that is neither here nor there. The arrow is part of a viral marketing campaign undertaken by juniors in the graphic design program. Jayne Lever, who worked on the campaign, said that art students are always being ignored on campus, something marketers hope to remedy with the mysterious “Ahem” sprinkled on pins, posters and arrows all around campus.

More than anything else, the students involved in the marketing campaign gained valuable experience that will help them later on in life.

“As a department, we’re very invested in students,” said Alison Denyer, the student-faculty liaison who planned the exhibition. The art department’s investment in its students was on full display during the exhibition’s opening Thursday, as scholarships, gift certificates and art supplies were awarded to the students of the art department.

“We’re trying to give awards to help students make art,” said Denyer, after introducing Benjamin Fillmore, who received a cash award designed to ease the transition into professional life for a graduating senior with a promising future in the art world.

“I haven’t seen more than 500 dollars in my checking account for months,” said Fillmore, who plans on using the award to pay studio rent. “This is really going to help me out a lot.”

A select group of students with work in the student art show, which is open to both 2-D and 3-D artwork, were selected by the guest juror, Heather Ferrell, to receive awards of merit.

Ferrell, the executive director of the Salt Lake Art Center, said “juried art and the art world itself is kind of subjective,” and the selection process was “not meant to discourage students,” but to encourage them to work hard and become the best artists that they can be. The subjective nature of juried art was made readily apparent even to some of the students singled out for praise by Ferrell.

“I would have juried it differently…everyone has their own taste,” said Lawrence Boye, a junior in sculpture whose plastic sculpture “Suspended” received an award of merit. “I actually submitted three pieces and this was the one of the three pieces I wasn’t expecting to get in. I had two other ones that I was more confident about,” said Boye.

Students are allowed to submit up to three works to be considered for entry. Chris Thompson, who was awarded the E. J. Bird Scholarship and works primarily in oils and charcoal, said he spent over 180 hours on his three entries and had two rejected.

Meanwhile, Savana Jones, who works with photography incorporated into a more sculptural setting, had two works rejected both times she entered, but managed to win the Dean’s Purchase Award and a merit award last year, in addition to the merit award she won this year for her work, “Handle with Care.”

In addition to the merit awards, every year the guest juror designates one work as the best in show. This year, the award went to Jeff Robinson’s painting “Human Nature.” Asked why he thought his work was awarded best in show, Robinson first said that the juror’s contemporary aesthetic meshed well with his modernist style, before joking that “it was the biggest piece in there so that might have helped it.”

The student art show is on the first floor of the art building and runs through May 8.

s.coons@chronicle.utah.edu

Pieces for the department of art student show are being showcased in the Alvin Gittins Gallery this week.