The Stillwell Exhibition opened for its 37th year on Jan. 20 and runs through Feb. 17 at the John A. Day Gallery in the Fine Arts building.
Starting in 1987, the exhibition was established to give students the opportunity to share their artwork in a professional setting. This year, the exhibition showcased 80 pieces of the 215 pieces they originally received from 63 separate artists.
Students could submit up to five pieces of their artwork, which were screened and then selected to be in the exhibition. Normally there are 60-80 works in the showcase. The juror that selected the artwork for this year’s exhibition was Ted Heeren.
“This exhibition is a breath of fresh air. There is a lot of buzz and a lot of great work,” Heeren said.
Heeren has a connection with USD and the art program and has been coming to these shows since he was a kid. His wife, Liz Heeren, is an art professor in the department. Even though he isn’t a visual artist himself, he has a passion for the visual arts.
In order to select which works would go into the exhibition, Heeren focused on something he calls, “The Five Mystic Truths.”
“There are five cards and they all say something on them connecting with artwork, my favorite is the ‘I just love it’ card,” Heeren said.
His screening process entailed following these cards and finding artwork with which he had a connection.
“I picked artwork that I would want to see again and again. Artwork that you can sit and continually stare at,” Heeren said.
The chair of the Department of Art, Cory Knedler, said that this gallery is the largest exhibition of the year.
“We have lots of athletics and sports events, but we don’t have as many events for the art students. It’s a big showcase of how proud we are of our students and their work,” Knedler said.
Students prepare for this exhibition months in advance and are encouraged to submit at least one piece of artwork. The exhibition creates a lot of opportunities like awards and experience.
There are many awards available, such as the Best of Show award and the Presidential award. Some awards have a monetary value with them, but every artist receives a certificate.
For those students whose artwork was not chosen to be a part of the exhibition, theirs were displayed in another room for a show called the Salon des Refusés. This show presented only on the first night of the exhibition: Jan. 20.
Students and families are encouraged to join in the celebration of the Department of Art.
“From a farm kid’s perspective, I love that this exhibition exists. What an opportunity it is for the students and the community,” Heeren said.