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The Juried Student Show, on display in the Radford University Art Museum Downtown until Feb. 11, had its opening reception on Thursday, Jan. 26. Attendees gathered at the museum to see the great diversity of students’ artwork on display. The show’s juror was Robert Miller, who has run Miller Off Main St. Galleries in Blacksburg for 44 years. Miller was responsible for deciding which pieces would win various awards.
Miller was hesitant at first about serving as the juror of the students’ artwork. “I’ve been asked for years, but this is the first one I’ve ever accepted,” he said. “I always felt it was a little odd to choose the best artist.” In the end, he decided it was an opportunity to play a part in encouraging students to produce art and was happy with the experience. “I like the way the awards were disseminated evenly.”
Steve Arbury, Director of the Radford University Art Museum, was pleased with the turnout to the opening reception, as well as the quality of the works submitted. “In terms of the number of artists who entered, it was a little on the low side perhaps this year. We’ve had more in the past, but we had a good selection of art, and there were nearly 50 pieces total that were submitted.” He credited the registrar and everyone involved with the show for doing a great job hanging the pieces.
The Juried Student Show is open to students of any major. “Although we have very few people outside the art department who do enter, anyone is welcome to enter. And there are a lot of students who are not art majors who are good artists. They’ve just got other things on their minds. So I would like to see more of that in the future,” Arbury said.
According to Arbury, the best thing about the show is seeing the diverse range of work students come up with. “Getting to see the quality and variety of art that students are making on campus and all the different mediums. We’ve got ceramics, jewelry, photography, drawing, and painting. It’s wonderful to see all that great variety.”
The students had unique sources of inspiration for their work. Sarah Joyce created the piece Her Body Is Not Her Own, composed of oil and cardboard collage, as a response to social media and peer pressure. “This is going towards my body of work for my senior show on the deterioration of the female form,” said Joyce. She was surprised and excited to receive the Art Museum Purchase Award. “I feel excited, and this just makes me keep wanting to go and produce more and more work. That my work means something.”
Kevin Kwon, who had two pieces in the show and won the Award of Merit for his Spring in Korea oil on canvas piece, cited his source of inspiration as being Korean folk art. Kwon, an international student, focused on line, color and light in his work. He spoke about the symbolic meaning behind his methods. “In Korea, it’s a small country with a lot of people, and it’s packed. But there’s a lot of negativity since everyone’s competitive. They’re not open-minded. But here everyone seems peaceful in some way. Well not everyone. But in some ways, I think it gives you hope here. So I thought since hope kind of resembles light it would make sense if I change my colors to some bright tones.”
Courtney Warfield was new to having her work featured in an art show. Her charcoal drawing, titled Empty Charcoal Bottle, received honorable mention. She had forgotten her love of drawing with charcoal until recently taking a drawing class. “I have learned a lot ever since I started. This is one of my beginning pieces. So I’ve learned a lot about technique. I’m just continuing to learn more about it.”
Xiaomeng Li, a graphic design student, received an honorable mention award for her photography. Photography is her hobby, and she puts a lot of effort into producing eye-catching pieces. She entered two pieces in the show from a class project in which she focused on shapes. Her black and white photos feature architecture on the Virginia Tech campus. “I tried to use the lines and the shadow to emphasize the structure of its beauty,” said Li. “I spent more than one month to look around. I took more than 200 pictures and picked some of my favorites.”