Stephen F. Austin State University

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Art students assist in curating 'State of the Union' exhibition

September 27, 2016 - Robbie Goodrich
Dana Younger's "Legends of the Lone Ranger Part I: Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Legislation" is a feature of the exhibition "State of the Union," showing Oct. 4 though Nov. 5 in The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art will host "State of the Union" exhibition Oct. 4 through Nov. 5 in The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches. An opening reception is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.

"State of the Union," which includes painting, drawing, photography, fibers, sculpture, metalworking, ceramics, silk-screening, digital art and video, is designed to showcase how artists today are reacting to the world around them, according to Lauren Selden, associate professor of art and whose students participated in curating the exhibition.

Showing during the final weeks of the 2016 general election season, the exhibition will focus on social and political themes, including political campaigns, environmental concerns, education, immigration, human rights, trade, globalization and other contemporary concerns, Selden explained.

"During election season, it is a nice time to reach out to the art world and find out what contemporary concerns are illustrated through art making," she said.

Multiple artists were invited to submit work, and students in the Art 492 Professional Practices course curated the exhibition, which includes the work of artists from across the U.S. and Mexico.

Beyond the benefit of bringing contemporary work from artists ranging across media, the exhibition serves as "a high-impact, student-learning experience," Selden said.

The students will learn the many components of setting up a professional exhibition, including selecting and arranging work, receiving shipped artwork, writing professional documents for the exhibition, building furniture for the exhibition, preparing text panels and labels, placing vinyl letters, installing the exhibition, corresponding with the artists, hosting a reception, taking down the exhibition, and returning the shipped work to individual artists.

"Preparing an exhibition is a valuable experience for these students and will aid them when they exhibit their own BFA exhibitions," Selden explained. The experience also illustrates future job opportunities available in the arts, she said.

Each work will have a short statement that expresses how the artist arrived at his/her completed works. These statements will also give the viewers a glimpse into the contemporary social and political themes being addressed.

"Although this show addresses contemporary concerns, the work is often subtle and can be viewed by people from all political backgrounds," Selden said. "There will be one work in which the artist encourages interaction and connection to social media; this work will be showcased especially at the opening reception.

"We are thankful to the Cole Art Center and the participating artists for allowing this great learning opportunity and to be part of the SFA exhibition schedule," Selden said.

Admission to the exhibition, which is sponsored in part by the Friends of the Visual Arts and Nacogdoches Junior Forum, is free. Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. Gallery hours are 12:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (936) 468-1131.