On Friday, April 18th, Beacon College hosted the first ever juried student art show. The show was filled with select student artwork, all of which was produced within the past year. Awards were presented for Best of Show, Best 2D, and Best 3D, as well as three honorable mentions, with prizes totaling $500. But who was this mysterious judge that declared the winners?
Back in the day when our art professor, Russ Bellamy, was teaching at the University of Central Oklahoma, he had a student by the name of Dustin Boise. Dustin has now become a well-respected artist, connected with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). I had the honor of interviewing Dustin to get a better understanding of his background, his philosophy on being an artist, and his priorities in evaluating the student art work included in Beacon’s first juried student art show.
Dustin attended the University of Cincinnati and the University of Central Oklahoma. He didn’t initially set out to become an artist, but he gained an appreciation for sculpture, realizing that art is “not just pretty pictures;” it can be much more conceptual. In an undergraduate exhibition, for instance, Dustin connected the idea of dentistry with that of Nazi propaganda. The inspiration for this project arose when he was babysitting a child who absolutely detested brushing his teeth, starting a small “war” in the house. Dustin found a correlation between Nazi Germany and the idea of being reminded to brush your teeth in that both contain an element of propaganda that impacts people’s lives through repetition. The difference is whether the propaganda has a negative or positive effect on people. In his installation, the “teeth” were arranged as an army to make the connection clear to visitors. Bellamy noted that he is “inspired by Dustin’s work.”
When questioned about what art students at Beacon should be prepared for when they embark on life as professional artists, both Bellamy and Boise chimed in with plenty of advice. The main points expressed by both artists were these: believe in what you are doing because the commitment is great and not everyone will appreciate your work; dedication and resilience are required for all artists since the word “no” will be heard a lot; and learn as much as you can during college about how to create your own equipment to be as self-sufficient and cost efficient as possible as a professional artist. In a final piece of advice, Dustin commented that it’s always helpful as an artist to receive feedback from others so he can view his work again with fresh eyes, which is one element that makes student art shows so beneficial to the artists.
After having spent a couple of days on campus, Dustin revealed his thoughts on the art program at Beacon, as well as the criteria he would be using in evaluating the student work. Dustin remarked that he was impressed both by the quality of the program and the advances in the facilities as well as the student artwork, noting that attendance at a top art college makes little difference in terms of the quality of the work produced by the students. The fact that there were so many good pieces in the show and that Dustin was on campus, meeting many of the student artists, would admittedly make it difficult for him to make his final decisions. Ultimately, Dustin’s evaluations were based on technique primarily, though technical and conceptual elements were both considered. Dustin’s thoughts are on display in the art studio and are worth a read to get an insight into his evaluation of the artwork.
The opening of the student art show proved to be a success, with many members of the Beacon community and people from the public showing up for the reception to support the student artists. Art professor Van Galyon was “really excited about the quality of the show. With the materials that the students have to work with, they produced excellent work and I thought the show looked very good. I think the judge did an excellent job.” Visitors were equally enthused. Learning specialist Braden Walter especially enjoyed seeing Bryan Westphal’s bed design hanging from the ceiling, which is certainly not something one sees every day.
The opening of the student art show was a special occasion for Beacon, and we look forward to this new annual tradition!
And the winners were…
Best of Show: Jack Callahan, Nothing
Best 3D: Bryan Westphal, Paralyzed Misery
Best 2D: Anuar Muyale, Diverse
Honorable Mentions: Angel Scipio, Beautiful Imperfections; Idmelda Elmonus, Bamboos; Mel Fronczak, Deceiving Walls
~Gretchen Dreimiller and Michael Tabankin