Student work showcased in annual exhibit


The Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition opened in the UNI Gallery of Art in Kamerick Art Building on Monday, March 25.

This year’s juror, T.J. Dedaux-Norris, is an assistant professor of art for the School of Art and Art History at the University of Iowa. He gave out awards to students on the opening day of the exhibit.

The exhibition is comprised a variety of mediums, including oil on canvas, book binding, ceramics and others, all made by student artists. One featured ceramic artist was Melodie Anstey. Her ceramic submission of a vase made to look like a dress was titled “Persephone: Below” and received a Merit Award from the UNI Art Department.

“I kind of just want people to take a little joy out of my work,” said Anstey, a senior majoring in art with an emphasis in studio ceramics. “I like to make things that are beautiful that maybe just add a little sense of wonderment when they look at it. I do a lot of kind of whimsical, botanical work in my stuff and I kind of just want that tiny sense of whimsicality or magic that you don’t find in your everyday life.”

Anstey submitted two dress vases for the exhibition: “Persephone: Above” and “Persephone: Below.” Anstey drew inspiration from Persephone, the Greek goddess of spring. In Greek mythology Hades took Persephone to the Underworld for winter, where she became the Queen of the Underworld.

“There’s this dark and light aspect to Persephone and that’s what my two dresses kind of are,” Anstey said. “One’s very light and the essence of innocence. And the other one’s kind of dark. The flowers in it are more twiggy and dark-colored and stuff like that.

Although ceramics is Anstey’s favorite art medium, she admits it’s a very demanding one.

“I would say it’s always a time crunch when it comes to ceramics and trying to get it done by the deadline,” Anstey said. “The ruffles of the dress — I had to make sure they hung just right. Every little flower was handmade, and they were tiny, so [I] had to be super careful and detailed.”

Anstey was also challenged with getting the right colors she wanted through the glazing process. She noted that ceramic pieces tend to look different before and after they are placed in the kiln.

“It’s extremely delicate work and time-consuming,” she said. “You have to have a lot of patience for it.”

Despite these many difficulties, Anstey says the challenge is part of what she enjoys about ceramics. She finds working with clay very therapeutic.

Another student whose work made it into the exhibition is Craig Miller, who created a book binding piece entitled “Anatomy for Millennials.”

“The concept of the book is it’s like a combination between human anatomy and parts of the body and stereotypes about the Millennial generation,” said Miller, a junior graphic design major. “So just finding connections between those two things and doing illustrations about that and kind of just finding statistics to back up those stereotypes or disprove them just to see if their true or not.”

Miller said the piece took him a total of about three to four weeks to create. He first researched stereotypes about Millennials, looking for ones he could connect with anatomy. Then he created the layout and constructed the physical book. The construction was the most challenging part for Miller.

“The point that I was going for was just to look at some of those stereotypes and see if maybe this isn’t true or maybe this is truer than you think it is and to do it in kind of a humorous way,” Miller said. “So, I hope some of the people will find some of the things funny and just interesting.”

The student art pieces will remain on display through Saturday, April 20.