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Students selected for art exhibit in Tennessee

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Olivia Nobles

Staff Writer

Three students from Troy’s Department of Art and Design are having their entries featured in the Bellwethers Exhibit of the West Tennessee Regional Art Center.

The students featured in the exhibition, which is a continuation of the Twenty First Century Artist Exhibition, traveled to Tennessee on Oct. 23 to deliver their art to the center. 

Austin Smith, a senior art education major from Dothan; Sara Ivey, a senior art major with a concentration in 2-D Studio from Newton; and Alex McLendon, a senior art major with a concentration in 2-D Studio from Troy, submitted several of their works for consideration. 

“College students from eight states were eligible to submit art that would be judged by a juror, and 120 pieces were submitted,” Smith said. “Only 35 pieces were selected, and five of those came from Troy.”

Of those selected, Smith’s dinner set was accepted, and he received first place in the 3-D category. Two of McLendon’s works and two of Ivey’s pieces were accepted into the gallery as well, with Ivey earning an honorable mention in the 3-D category. 

Smith’s dinner set was inspired by “Les Miserables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” — more specifically, the class warfare represented in these works. His set included a place setting for the aristocrat and the peasant at the same table. 

Larry Percy, a professor of art and design, said Smith’s piece “was really strong both conceptually and formally.”

“I was very proud, and I knew that his concept got him that first place as much as the quality of his work,” Percy said.   

McLendon submitted a whale sculpture and an 8-by-2-foot painting of one of her classmates. She said each was a first for her — her first time working with clay, and the first time creating something life-sized.

“They were made with a lot of love, though,” McLendon said. 

Each of the students remarked that this experience pushed them as artists.  

“This is one of those eye-opening things that a lot more art students should be involved in,” Ivey said. “It made me realize I want to show my work to the public.”

“It was a huge learning process,” McLendon said. “I’d never been in an exhibition before outside of Troy.

“I’d love to do it again, and this is what I plan to do for the rest of my life.”

One perk of having their submissions accepted was the three students were excused from classes for two days while they drove their pieces to the gallery. 

“The trip was so much fun!” Ivey said. “It was a lot of artwork to fit into one vehicle, though — we had to let down the seats on one side of the SUV to fit it all.”

Percy shared advice he gives to each of his students, and the same advice that he would give to any aspiring artist who hopes to have their work in a gallery one day.

“Simply start working,” Percy said. “Work calms anxiety. 

“Once you start working, the ideas and the creativity come.”

The students’ art pieces will be on display in the Bellwethers Exhibit of the West Tennessee Regional Art Center until Nov. 27, after which time the students will travel back to the Center to retrieve them.