NORMAN — The gallery was packed with art pieces and art installations and a buzz filled the air in similar fashion to an up-and-coming art exhibitiom in a place like New York City or Milan. The 100th Annual School of Art & Art History Student Exhibition brought forth discussion, intrigue and inspiration during the Friday night reception. Student work was revered and students were presented awards for their creations. The exhibit will be at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art through Feb. 16.
Todd Stewart, co-interim director and art technology and culture professor, said the exhibition was both an opportunity for students to show off their work in a gallery setting but also for the community to embrace student artists.
“Tonight is a good opportunity for the community to see the diverse practices and quality of student work,” Stewart said. “The museum and university are part of the community, so people should come take advantage of that.”
Rozmeri Basic, co-interim director and associate dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, said the night was a great opportunity for art history students as well because normally art history isn’t visible outside academia. Basic said at the exhibition art history students would be recognized and have the chance to present lectures on their work.
The 55 works composing the show were selected by guest juror Michael Ray Charles. Charles is Internationally noted artist and University of Texas at Austin art professor. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La. and his Master's degree in fine arts from the University of Houston. He was one of the first artists featured in the PBS series “Art 21,” which chronicled the top contemporary art and artists of the 21st century.
Rich Taylor, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, said he couldn’t be happier with the exhibition.
“This is a night about great talent,” Taylor said.
The student show and reception also featured graphic design as seen in Hoang Truong’s logo design. This year marks the 25th year for OU to teach graphic design. A junior studying graphic design with a main interest in branding, Truong had to compete against other students to win the honor of having his design represent the 100th Annual Student Show. Truong said he was inspired by OU’s saying “there’s only one,” the energy of Jackson Pollock’s work and colors from the School of Art & Art History.
“The School of Art & Art History has really taught me to never be too comfortable and to take risks,” Truong said.
As part of her award, Heather Eck’s work will become part of the museum’s permanent collection. Additionally, as part of their awards, Kate Swanson and Dillon Becker will present lectures at Fred Jones on Feb. 4 at 4 p.m. Courtney Creedon, who won an award for her piece “Whitetail,” which featured an installation of antlers posted to steel and facing skyward, said she had really tried to make an impactful piece.
“A lot of people have said it is intimidating at first, but then they read the description and can see it’s a formal interpretation of who I am,” Creedon said. “I love and respect wildlife. I’ll definitely continue to use organic materials and steel in future work.”
In conjunction with the centennial student show, the college is featuring an alumni show through Feb. 14. in the Lightwell Gallery at the School of Art & Art History. And Sterling Gates, SoAAH alumni and comic book writer, will speak at Fred Jones Thursday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. Stewart said Gates was a great example of a student who had found his own professional path.
“That’s something we try to instill in all of our students, and as you can see tonight at the exhibition, students embrace finding their own path and learn not to be narrow minded or stuck in one field,” Stewart said.
For more information about the OU School of Art & Art History, visit ou.edu/finearts/art_arthistory.html. For more information about Fred Jones Jr. Museum of art, visit ou.edu/fjjma.
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