UJ’s spring art show open through April

What a semester this has been, and what successful projects University of Jamestown students have made. Art classes are always exciting, no matter the year or classes being taught. Anytime there are paints, pastels, paper, pencils and plastic mat...


What a semester this has been, and what successful projects University of Jamestown students have made. Art classes are always exciting, no matter the year or classes being taught. Anytime there are paints, pastels, paper, pencils and plastic materials, people seem to migrate to them like metal to a magnet. The 2016-17 year has been one of those memorable school years for art. And students taking classes have a show to display their semester’s achievements. In addition to the all-students show, Robert Oswell, a senior art major, will display his work during April.

Oswell, a U.S. Army veteran, is a surgical tech at the Jamestown Regional Medical Center and owns his own business. Roswell Tattoos Inc. is located at 204½ 1st St. in Jamestown, and he can be reached at (701) 404-9334. He will be graduating in December with an art major, and then he plans to complete another major in art therapy the following year. His reception will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 28, in the Reiland Fine Arts Center gallery. He will have a closing reception as opposed to an opening reception because not all art pieces were completed at the opening on April

3. Most of the large busts still had to be fired. The “why” of their delay is pretty typical. Clay has to dry fully before being fired to 1,825 degrees, or it explodes inside the kiln. But nearly all are in the exhibit now.

Life-size heads (selfportraits), animals and smaller heads, some examples of giant popcorn kernels and a few “ugly” pieces filled the sculpture class’ required assignments. They learned about the additive and subtractive processes and how to connect bits of wet clay to a larger body of wet clay. As is typical of all spring shows, the large busts are not always fired in time for the show’s opening, and receptions usually are at the end of the exhibit, which is the case this year.


The solid block of clay is made up of smaller sections, literally beaten together using a bat. The students have to make their bat out of 2-by-4 lumber about 18 to 24 inches long. They have to cut a handhold and using brute force, they almost straddle their sculpture stand, bats in place, and swing at the clay like a baseball player ready to hit a home run. It’s loud, and it’s messy. I bring goggles to the classroom and help the timid brave up to their blob. It can get hilarious, and frequently becomes controlled chaos, but it can also have its downside, especially when that much clay lands on the floor or won’t “shape up” like they need it to for carving.

Once the clay has been carved and fired, there is a classroom filled with sighs of relief and pride. It’s like an entire classroom full of family members awaiting the birth of a newborn. So the sculpture pieces that are in the show have been wept over, prayed for and cursed, hugged and christened with emotions that the viewing public never sees. Some collapse, some explode and blow off parts (because enclosed air bubbles have to go somewhere), or they split, shrink or some even lose face (if it was added to a smooth front). Just getting their heads into the show is the ultimate accomplishment for all the students.

As you view them, think more about the process of making and cleaning, firing and the possibility of their work still not being perfect. Viewers would assume all were well-acquainted with clay and art, but not so. None of the students in that class are art majors. Most are in business, nursing, soccer players, computer science majors, engineering, or planning to become politicians one day. They take an art class because it’s something they missed in high school and always wanted to do, or are taking it as an elective in fine arts. Oddly enough, many will be successful at making something as impressive as a life-sized head.

The 2-D work on the racks comes from figure drawing and printmaking classes. Students in those classes have been working on learning anatomy and portraiture or how to use cutting blades to carve a design on linoleum or wood blocks and how to do silkscreens. The students in figure drawing have practiced speed drawing as well as capturing personalities in their work. Since midterm, they have been doing fantasy pieces, where they do an imaginary composition based on the model’s pose or face.

Compared to the sculptors, printmakers had it pretty easy doing negative and positive block cuts before midterm. Doing silkscreen is an animal of another species. It’s a technical process that involves many hours just to get a photo image transferred to the emulsion-covered screen. The type of printmaking process - either block or silkscreen

- is noted on the identification label.

Some work is for sale and contact information is on the identification card inside the mat. If interested in buying, place your name on the back of that card and a contact method and write sold on the front of the ID card, then slip it back into the mat. The student will contact you.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.



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