John A. Day Alumni Art Exhibit features work from artists in the area
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John A. Day Alumni Art Exhibit features work from artists in the area

The John A. Day Gallery’s ‘Alumni Art Exhibit’ opens on March 11. This exhibit boasts art from alumni in all different walks of life post-graduation. Pieces come from practicing artists, professors and community members living in Vermillion.

Cory Knedler, Chair of the Art Department, curated this exhibit with the help of the University Art Galleries staff.

“We have quite a few alumni out there who are both professional artists, teachers and then local artists that live right here in Vermillion, like Rick Johns and Susan Hagested and Sarah Hanson, who works here on campus in the University Archives,” Knedler said.

Submissions for the exhibit were accepted from any art majors who graduated from USD. The exhibit has two-dimensional and three-dimensional art and video displayed. Knedler said they received submissions from graduates from the class of 1985 up to the class of 2019.

“There’s going to be some more established artists like Connie Herring, who has established herself in the region as an installation artist over the years. Terry Magaffin, who was the Chair of the Art Department at Morningside College in Sioux City. There’s Jeff Valdas, who teaches at Briar Cliff University and Joseph Shafer, who teaches at the University of Sioux Falls,” Knedler said.

Mark Stemwedel who is a Senior Lecturer at South Dakota State (SDSU) submitted three works to be shown in the exhibit titled “The Office,” “Back Entrance” and “Alleyway.” He earned his MFA from USD in Painting and BFA from SDSU in Visual Art.

Knedler also commented on the pieces in the exhibition. Some of the art is for sale, but organizers left the option open as to whether or not the artist would sell their pieces.

“Some of the alumni put ‘Not for Sale’ and some wanted to sell their work. Vermillion galleries don’t often get people coming through to purchase artwork. This show is more of an educational exhibition than it is a sales gallery exhibition,” Knedler said.

Knedler said the Art Department at USD doesn’t receive any extra funding, but the gallery receives a certain budget line. The staff makes use of the budget to put on exhibitions and the Art Alumni Exhibit is one of their annual exhibitions.

“We have a mailing list that the University Art Galleries has and then we print posters for campus and downtown. We also send postcards to larger communities and we’ll get posters to Sioux Falls and Sioux City as well,” Knedler said.

The gallery will show about 50 pieces at the exhibition. Amy Fill, Director of the University Art Galleries, said this exhibition helps alumni stay connected with the university.

“This is such a great opportunity for alumni engagement, celebrating our alumni and as a collaboration between the gallery and the art department,” Fill said.