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2024 SSU Student Art Show a success

Kate Pitts
Opening night of the 2024 SSU Student Art Show

On the evening of April 1, Shawnee State University’s Appleton Gallery was warm both in temperature and spirit. The lack of cool air did not deter the large crowd from walking around and viewing every piece featured in the university’s annual student art show. Nearly 50 pieces of work were displayed around the room, created by over 20 students.

Guidelines for art submissions were not rigid, the biggest rule being that all pieces required a frame.

Art is a very broad field that takes on many different forms,” said Charles Davis, a professor in the fine arts department and the director of the gallery. The gallery was open to all kinds of artwork.

Lights shone down from above as people moved through the crowds. Audience members gathered around a table in the center of the room covered in complimentary drinks, cookies and meatballs. The 2024 SSU Student Art Show was a busy event.

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The room was not a large one, but the effort put into assembling the gallery was. Students, faculty, facilities workers and many others all came together to bring the gallery to life.

“Never a slow day,” proclaimed Riley Galloway of being in the art department. Galloway is a student who was tasked with helping set up the event. 

From the moment the gallery doors opened at 5 p.m., there was seldom a moment of silence. Students cheerfully discussed their pieces with friends and family. One student excitedly spoke of using glass for the first time. Another showed off the wheelchair she used to paint a canvas. 

Some students were filled with nervousness and excitement like Galloway. Others, like Jordan Love, were proud to see the progress fellow students had made since the previous year’s show.

For an hour, the gallery was bustling with observers. It was 6 p.m. when Davis called for the focus of the attendees. Immediately, the spectators quieted down and gave Davis their full attention. 

With the help of Michael Barnhart, chair of the fine arts department, Davis gave out the first three awards.

Third place went to Savannah Fout for an art sculpture. Fout’s sculpture was titled “Eternal Judgment,” and she explained the piece to be related to how women have been viewed since Eve took the apple in the Garden of Eden.

Second place was given to Kate Riley for her digital artwork titled “Agrabah Travel.” Riley described her artwork as a travel poster for the kingdom Agrabah from the animated Disney film Aladdin

The spot of first place was awarded to Jordan Love for her set of three pieces called “Heaven Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned.” Love was a winner of the previous year’s show.

“It’s about women’s experience growing up in the Bible belt and the shame that comes with that,” Love explained her work to the observers.

Once the first three spots were announced, one final award remained, the biggest one of the show.

The last award presented was the Tom Stead Award, an award that goes to best of show and is named after the artist and former Shawnee State University faculty member. Tom Stead himself was at the show and was given the honor of announcing the award named after him. 

The Tom Stead Award was given to McKenna Rhoades for her piece titled “Ducklings,” which she explained was drawn when she was in high school with colored pencils. 

After each award was given, Davis had the winner explain their piece to the audience. Everyone watched and listened with full focus. At the end of the awarding, the crowd gave a genuine round of applause to all of the participants for their hard work. 

One audience member even took the initiative to call for another round of applause for Davis and the work he put into the show. 

While submitting a piece of art is required for all seniors majoring in studio arts or graphic design, entries were open to all Shawnee State University students who wished to participate.

Although it could be considered a small gallery, it was important to those whose artwork was featured. The winners were decided by a panel of faculty members and were given an undisclosed cash prize along with their awards. The panel included: Davis; Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, who has a background in digital illustration and concept art; Michael Reynolds, who has a background in digital art and game design; and Mallory Plinke, who has a background in studio arts.

From a viewer’s perspective, it was a truly welcoming experience, and the care everyone had for the art was genuine. Inspiration for the art came from many places: life experience, pop culture, self-awareness and even just color itself.

“I like proving myself and others wrong,” Love stated, commenting on how the lack of faith she and others have in her abilities is what motivates her.

After its opening night on April 1, the exhibition remained open until April 19. Admission to the gallery is free to anyone who wishes to visit. The Appleton Gallery is located on the second floor of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts.

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About the Contributor
Kate Pitts
Kate Pitts, Staff Writer

Kate Pitts is a 19-year-old English/humanities communication major in her sophomore year at Shawnee State University. Her goal is to be involved in journalism when she graduates. Her interests have always included reading and writing, and she likes finding out every little thing she can about something. The combination of these passions has led her to pursue a path to journalism so that she can do what she loves all of the time. 

She has many hobbies, including reading stories and watching television. Her tastes in books and television shows are eclectic, showing that she has a broad variety of interests. In high school, she was involved in both the art club and the Spanish club. In college, she is focusing on her school work and working hard to pursue her future in journalism. Originally, she thought that she wanted to be an education major, but it did not take long for her to realize that this path was not for her. 

She also loves watching YouTube commentary YouTubers. This demonstrates her interest in learning as much as possible about any subject that she is pursuing. This skill is important in a reporter because it will lend to her credibility when she gathers as much data as she can about a story as she writes it. 

Another thing that she loves to do in her free time is going with her friend to antique shops to find unique vintage items like old records. Pitts loves thrifting because she loves to find unique things that cannot be found in other stores. Her creativity and ability to spot interesting things missed by others are part of what makes her such a valuable member of the Chronicle staff.


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