The Stilwell Exhibition is an annual event that gives students the opportunity to showcase art they’ve created in and outside of the classroom throughout the year.
Students are able to submit five pieces of artwork for the exhibition, which are narrowed down and given awards by a juror appointed by the chair of fine arts. This year’s juror was Brian Holland, a Minnesotan painter who received his master’s degree in fine arts from USD.
Kate Skelly, director of university art galleries, said the Stilwell Exhibition sees more than 200 pieces of art selected by the juror. Skelly said they generally try to pick a juror who is local or has a connection to USD.
“Usually the chair of the fine arts department will find the juror through one of his contacts,” Skelly said. “We usually try to find somebody in the region so they can drive down.”
The Stilwell Exhibition began in 1987 in memory of former painting professor Wilbur Stilwell. His wife Gladys started the Stilwell fund, which makes the annual exhibition possible.
A creative opportunity
Mike Jones, a second-year art graduate student, said he’s been practicing his photography skills since he was eight years old, when he received his first Polaroid camera. He said the Stilwell Exhibition is a great opportunity to show off the pieces he feels best conveys a message.
“(Art students) have learned to experiment with new ideas and new concepts,” Jones said. “I’ve really had some great professors who have really helped my creativity shine. They help you leave your concerns behind and continue to grow.”
Riley Hoben, senior fine arts major with an emphasis in printmaking, said he chose certain prints he submitted that he felt the juror would be able to relate to. Hoben submitted five pieces of work into the Stilwell Exhibition his freshman year and now has two paintings in this year’s exhibition: “Let me be dead” and “The bond.”
“I made this one work (The bond) that I thought was really cool and I thought it could possibly get an award. This year’s juror is a painter, so he looks for specific things he likes,” he said. “So I thought the prints that I submitted were painting-like and would maybe catch his eye.”
Hoban’s piece “The bond” was awarded honorable mention at this year’s exhibition.
“I was actually surprised,” Hoben said. “I didn’t honestly think I would get anything. I kind of go into it not expecting anything and hopefully being surprised. It was an awesome opportunity. I love the Stilwell a lot.”
Hoben said he enjoys the Stilwell Exhibition because it allows students in the art department the opportunity to showcase their work.
“(My favorite thing is) just everybody getting together, seeing everyone’s work, seeing what everyone is into, what they have made and seeing all the hard work they have put into it,” Hoben said.
Stilwell has also given Hoben the opportunity to get to know other art majors and build better relationships within the building.
“Just talking to everyone (at the exhibition), you make a lot of friends and connections,” Hoben said. “There is definitely a good community around here and people really like to help each other. The Stilwell opens doors up to students who are kind of hesitant to socialize and communicate with other students around the building. This helps them to see that everybody is friendly and hang out and help each other out.”