Art Muse showcases student talent

Allison Mueller

Ana Alexander/ Winonan

On Feb. 18, Watkins Gallery opened its latest exhibition called Art Muse to the public, kicking off with an opening reception. Art Muse is a juried undergraduate exhibit in which students were allowed to submit up to three pieces of art to Alison Hiltner, the associate director at Soo Visual Center, who then selected which pieces would be showcased in the exhibition.

Art Muse included a variety of different pieces including photography, watercolors, acrylics and a variety of different mediums. There were several 3D pieces, including one titled “Fountain of Youth” by Sonja Slater, which incorporated a faucet emitting brightly colored glitter and shiny sequins through the spout. There was also a piece titled “Tranquil Chaos” by Steve Ayres which was a large stained slab of wood that had intricate designs burned into it.

Jamie Smyth, one of the exhibit’s attendees, commented on Ayres’ piece.

“I thought it was incredible how he stained and burned it. It was really cool,” Smyth said. “It shocked me that it was a student’s work.”

The show also included an untitled piece by McKenna Schmidt, which was a self-portrait created out of tiny dots made from Sharpies. Her work in the exhibit led to her being recognized in an unconventional setting.

“I actually got recognized in the bathroom today.” Schmidt said as a smile broke across her face. “Someone was like, ‘Isn’t there a picture of you in the gallery?’”

Describing her work, Schmidt said her process was intricate and took time to get the image exactly right.

“It’s out of dot work, which is using small dots to make all of the shading and the highlights,” she said. “It took about 28 hours to make during finals week last year, so that was a lot of late nights. Being an artist I had a lot of patience for that, especially on a deadline. It was really fun to do.”

Those in attendance got to see the product of each artist’s dedication of time and effort firsthand as they strolled around the gallery, looking at the wide range of artwork.

Smyth commented on her observations of the artists as they stood by their pieces at the exhibition opening.

“I thought it was cool how you could see the pride on every artists’ faces,” Smyth said. “You could really appreciate all the hard work they put into it. It was nice to showcase their abilities and let them know they were appreciated.”

Art Muse will be open in the Watkins Art Gallery until March 4.