Student expression is being called upon with the announcement of Alkek One's art competition to fill its empty lobby walls. The deadline for submissions was initially Dec. 15 but is now extended to Jan. 15, providing students with more time to participate.
Texas State buildings, such as the LBJ Student Center and Alkek, consistently create opportunities for students to showcase art throughout their walls. Unfortunately, a lack of interest belittles these opportunities and their potential for creative exposure.
Students should take initiative to engage and submit ideas and not take them for granted.
Alkek One, which serves as a hub for technology-focused education and creativity, finalized construction this past summer. Brittney Johnson, Alkek Library Digital Literacy Program Coordinator, says displaying art in the lobby was not the initial plan, but the library eventually decided to make the space student-centered, believing it would be a “good way to promote the spaces, give students some ownership of the spaces and also promote the services and the equipment in the spaces.”
The submissions for the competition must accommodate and reflect the ideals of the Common Experience theme: Dynamics. The theme revolves around movement and the various types of forces behind “growth, change, inspiration and action.” The goal is to highlight and promote the themes of Women in Technology and People of Color in Technology.
The most unique part of the competition is finished submissions are not required. Alkek is willing to accept ideas or sketches and even supply materials to finish a concept at no cost.
“Students can submit a final project or they can submit an idea and kind of sketches of it," Johnson said. "They can also work in teams. We are trying to be as inclusive as possible and as open as possible to all students, not just students who have experience in art."
This is a great opportunity for students who might have big ideas but need extra equipment or experts to help bring them to fruition. The Alkek One staff is prepared to help in any way it can.
Alkek Library has glass and portable displays around the building specifically designed to display student, staff and faculty art. The application to submit pieces is open year-round and evaluated frequently. Chosen submissions are usually displayed for six weeks.
“We are always looking at other possibilities for art in the library," said Debbie Pitts, Texas State Libraries’ Marketing and Communications strategist. "For right now those are the things we have offered, but we are looking at other possibilities as well,” Pitts said.
Additionally, the LBJ Student Center has a Fine Arts Advisory Board comprised of students, faculty and staff who help “promote creative endeavors in the student center for students.”
Dusty Vaught, assistant director for the LBJ Student Center and co-leader of the LBJSC Fine Arts Advisory Board, says the board is on a slight hiatus right now but usually works on an exhibition schedule. Students submit their work then the board meets to review the pieces and curates the exhibition.
Exhibitions are virtual at the moment, but the board still wants to give students a chance to showcase their art; however, submissions are needed to do so successfully. The board's latest exhibition was called “A New Light”, and its deadline for submissions was Oct. 25.
There were no submissions.
“We want to support student art as much as possible, but these students are working under conditions that they have never experienced before in class,” Vaught said.
Obviously, students are going through a very intense time right now with the pandemic, and it is completely understandable. But the idea of zero submissions is difficult to comprehend.
A creative outlet is really important for keeping the human brain stimulated. Working on art for these exhibitions could potentially give students a much-needed break from stress.
The deadlines might serve as stressors, but the LBJSC Fine Arts Board has an additional submission form open year-round, similar to Alkek, where it allows students to submit collections or collaborations at any time for consideration. That art is displayed throughout the building at any time.
“There are a lot of locations in LBJ, and if we have a proposal from a student then we want to help them display that art. We have stuff in the lair, on the first floor, kind of all over the building,” Vaught said.
Sometimes the lack of participation falls on insufficient outreach. Do the boards and administrators do enough to inform students of open opportunities? Well, they do everything they can.
According to Johnson, the common outreach protocol is to send mass emails to the student body and promote on social media. Additionally, flyers are sometimes created and placed across campus.
Unfortunately, emails are drowned in a sea of unread information, and little in-person attendance this semester resulted in flyers losing their sufficiency. There are not many other ways students can be informed; it is up to students to seek the opportunities out.
Showcasing student art is not limited to Alkek and LBJSC. Other student installations include the mural next to Paws N Go. The mural titled “One of A Kind” was curated by Miranda Terry, a 2019 studio art graduate, along with Onix Rodriguez, a 2018 studio art graduate. The mural in the Honors College Multicultural Lounge was also curated by a student, studio art senior Celica Ledesma.
Bigger installations are much less common, but they happen. The point is, opportunities to submit art are sometimes neglected, more so in the era of COVID-19, and students need to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
Grab inspiration from the world right now. It might not be perfect or exciting, but it exists. Document the fear, the frustration and the journey. Do not be afraid to share the art. Embrace it.
- Laura Nunez is an adverting senior
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