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Student Juried Art Show highlights student's dedication and work

February 14, 2018

If you have walked through the lobby of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Center in the last two weeks, you might have noticed the latest art exhibition taking place. There is glasswork, photography, oil paintings, a graphic novel and many other different forms of visual art. The annual Student Juried Art Show has filled the walls with exceptional student work. 
How it works is that the art department picks an independent artist to come in and select pieces to be displayed in the show. This year the artist who was chosen was Andy Ducett. Ducett is an artist based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and he currently teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His job was to come in and choose exhibition pieces from the many student submissions sent to him.

Students could submit up to four pieces for the show. They could be any type of visual art, but it had to be made within the last year. All the glasswork in the show was made in studio at UWRF, which happens to have the second oldest glasswork program inside of Wisconsin.
After Ducett chose which pieces to star in the show, he arranged them inside the gallery. That done, he gathered the student artists in the lobby of KFA, explained his thought process regarding which works he chose to display and then gave out three purchase awards.  

The three awards went to one 2D piece, one 3D piece and then one more that could be either 2D or 3D. These pieces will be bought by the University and put into their permanent collection. Every year, the University takes in these three student pieces.  

Eoin Breadon, the Art Department Chair at UWRF, explained what a great opportunity it was for students to be in this show.  To have artwork in a juried show shines on a student's resume. It also gives the students a sense of pride and validation to know that someone outside of friends and faculty thinks their art deserves recognition in a gallery.

Breadon also emphasized that creating this artwork provided a great research opportunity. The students needed to familiarize themselves with the tools and materials that they were using. They had to find inspiration, draft an idea and then see that idea through. What we see on the wall is the finished piece, but the work that goes into these pieces beforehand is extensive and detailed.  

Jon Mielke, a senior majoring in art and who was a student in the show, recounted the amount of work that his piece took to make. His piece is title "Skojlr," or "shield" in English, and it took him around 40 to 60 hours to complete.
"There was a lot of trade craft, carpentry, research that went into this piece," Mielke said. "About 90 percent of the materials used in the creation of this shield would have been (used) around some 1,500 years ago - iron, wood, rawhide and milk paint are all pretty basic and have been around far longer than that. I had to tax all the skills I've spent the last few years building up, both in and outside the university, so naturally the biggest step was just getting started."

"There were two major phases of construction," he continued. "The first was obviously making the shield out of poplar planks faced with a sheet of rawhide and backed with a light linen, putting on the metal dome (boss) and (putting on the) handle, of course. The second phase was arguably more artistic. That involved getting ahold of a casein-based milk paint. So, in short, it’s milk paint on hide with a wooden backing." 

While getting all the materials and constructing might have been difficult, even choosing the right paint design took research. Mielke said he spent "hours researching, looking for historical depictions from the right periods in history for historical inspiration."

He also said, "You might not think a depiction of a wolf from 750 and 1200 A.D. would be that different, as they are both technically medieval, but you’d be wrong.  And finding credible sources in Swedish and Norwegian museum photo collections is tough. Pinterest did not help at all." 

When asked about what it means to be able to display his work, Mielke explained that "it's really rewarding." He admits feeling a little self-conscious about his piece due to its unusual nature. He was able to meet with Andy Ducett and talk through his piece.

"Ducett agreed that I needed a solid means of conveying that, just because of the obscurity of the symbolism and personality or the inspiration," Mielke said.

At the end of the day, however, "the fact that he got it and chose my piece for display in this show was among one of the best learning experiences I’ve had in the program," Mielke said.  

If you would like to know more about Mielke's piece, you can go to his Facebook page under the name JDartandcraft.