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PAINTING THE FUN: Troy University students’ exhibit a quirky, joyful display

The mood was different from most artists’ receptions. The talk was lively and sometimes loud and the laughter was contagious.

Most of those in attendance were the honored artists. They were having a great time admiring and, perhaps, critiquing their own work as well as that of their fellow artists at the Best of Troy University Student Art Exhibit that opened Friday at the Johnson Center for the Arts. The exhibit will run through June 8.

Pam Allen, chair of the Troy University department of art and design, said this is the third year the JCA has hosted the Best of Troy University Art Exhibit and, each year, she is amazed at the quality of the show.

“I’m extremely proud of our students,” Allen said. “All of the pieces in this show have come out of class assignments. I’m impressed by the way the students have taken an idea and created such amazing artwork. It’s different. It’s interesting. It’s fun and it’s certainly worth viewing.”

Troy University art professor Greg Skaggs, laughingly, said, “It’s a mess.”

Skaggs, who is “pictured” in the exhibit, said the students’ art exhibit is fun and it’s fun for the instructors in the art department to come and see what their students “artfully” come up with.

“There’s a mix of students who are showing their work this year,” Skaggs said. “Some of them are nearing graduation, others are upperclassmen and we have a few freshmen. I’m enjoying them and their exhibit.”

Alex McLendon and Karvarus Moore attracted a lot of attention with both their artwork and their antics.

“It’s a collaboration,” they said as they comically posed with their entry in the exhibit.

The end result of their collaboration was that Karvarus would paint Alex and she would paint him and, together, they would paint Rachel Riley their friend.

Riley contributed a computer graphic for the tri-portrait but it is not a part of the show.

But these were not to be “ordinary” portraits. They would be life-size. And, they would be fun art.

And, fun the paintings are. So much so, that the art students gathered before them to discuss the as-big-as-life portraits and their merits and the other artwork in the exhibit.

When a painting or installation was mentioned, those who had not viewed it would leave to go look so they could enter the discussion. The discusses were lively and friendly.

Austin Smith’s “Social Divide” received a lot of attention. The idea for the installation came from Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

One side of the dining table is set for the wealthy and well-to-do. The other side, for the poor, working class. The table settings clearly define the classes. Even the menu, Smith said.

“The soup bowls for the rich are made by the finest artists and the finest wine is there for serving,” he said. “The poor working class dines from broken clay bowls, eats scraps from the garbage cans and has water to drink.”

Smith said each handmade item on the table is representative of those who are to be served.

Brandon Rice once thought he would go into the ministry but has since changed his mind. However, the chaos that often exists because of the different religious beliefs is the subject of much of his work.

For Jennifer White, the exhibition was an opportunity to go beyond borders with her artwork, as it was for many of the Troy University art students.

White’s “Mermaids” theme suggests that things are not always as they seem. What on the surface could appear to be goodness and light could actually be dark and foreboding, White said.

Wiley White, JCA exhibition coordinator, said the Troy University Student Art Exhibit is varied and each piece is excellent in its own way.

“I really mean that,” White said. “There is so much variety in this exhibit that you’ll go from one side of the gallery to the other and then back again.”

White said some of the paintings are realistic and some you have to really look at to decide what you think.

“All of the artwork is very well done,” she said. “Some of the artwork is extremely realistic while some makes you curios to know ‘what is this?’ And, that’s not a bad thing. It makes you look closer and think harder.”

White said some of the exhibit is quirky.

“And it’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It seems that some of the artwork has been inspired by what the artists see in the movies and then transport it to the canvas.”

White said the Troy University Student Art Exhibit will be enjoyed by all viewers.

“It’s the kind of show that has something for everyone,” she said. “All those who come will react to the art. It’s great artwork and it’s great fun. We invite everyone to take the opportunity to see the outstanding artwork being done by students in the Troy University Art Department and in grades K-12. Both the Troy University exhibit and the TroyFest Student Art Competition exhibit will be up during TroyFest Saturday and Sunday.

The student show will come down around May 10.

The Johnson Center for the Arts is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free.