Honors Exhibit opens many slices of art

The Honors Art Exhibit is now showcasing semester-long projects of all sorts of media. The exhibit is free and open to the public for the next few days.


Ashley Morris

The interior of the Visual Arts Building on the west side of campus as seen on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.

Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

A laser-spliced chair covered in fluffy material, sheets of photoshopped faux Instagram posts, and large, shattered ceramics fill a small room in the Visual Arts Building. The art pieces are unique and eclectic, the type of work that catches the eye and reveals more information the longer it is examined.

This week, the University of Iowa School of Art & Art History began exhibiting the Honors projects. The projects are displayed in E148 Visual Arts Building, and they will remain open to the public until 8 p.m. Friday. The show celebrates the hard work Honors students have completed in the past semester.

“The show’s pretty self-explanatory,” UI senior Tyler Stone said. “To get Honors in art, you have to do a semester-long project that is separate from your other classes. The show is basically a showcase of everyone’s work and what they’ve been doing in the semester.”

The Honors projects allowed students to explore their passions. For example, Stone produced a polished animation demonstrating predictions of the evolutionary process that lead toward the blue whales of the modern age.

“I’m the guy who has yet to outgrow his childhood dinosaur phase,” Stone said. “For my project, I wanted to use animation, which I’ve really fallen in love with while I’ve been here. I wanted to use that as a way to teach about a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart: the whole story of how whales went from being these tiny little animals hiding in the water so they wouldn’t get eaten to the biggest thing in the history of things is just so fascinating to me.”

The artistic-design process was rigorous for Stone, and he had to consult professionals in the marine field in order to best illustrate accurate information.

“Initially, I just did lots of research and rough designs in my sketchbook,” Stone said. “I actually corresponded with a marine mammal paleontologist to get some feedback. I drew all of the assets on my iPad in Procreate and then exported them all as photoshop files. I imported them into [Adobe] After Effects and hit the ground running from there.”

Other students focused on 3D projects that expanded from learning points in previous classes.

“I made a foam chair that covered with cut-down woolen yarn,” UI senior Ninglu Zhang said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “I used Sliceform to build the structure, which is the same technique I used in my Furniture Design 1 class. In class, I used walnut plywood, which is a fairly heavy material. The chair turned out heavy, of course. So I decided to make a similar idea but lightweight-material-built chair for my Honors project.”

Zhang modeled the chair digitally, then used a CNC machine to laser cut the Sliceform pieces of the chair before fitting them together. While this technique was completely different from Stone’s, both projects fall under the Honors Art Exhibit.

“I think [this gallery] shows off a wide variety. It shows the fact that there are so many things that fall under the umbrella of arts,” Stone said. “You’re not just drawing or painting or sculpting; there are so many interesting topics that people tackle in their work. I’ve learned to do so many different things just through taking different arts classes; on top of that, because it’s the Honors project, it’s not for the class — it’ s a separate, self-driven thing. They have that extra layer of being very personal and building something that you’re passionate about. It’s a cool way to show what you can create with the things you’ve learned in your classes.”

This creative freedom pushes many students to pursue Honors projects, especially those who are interested in completing a passion project.

“All the works here are out-of-class projects,” Zhang said. “These works show students’ self-experimentation and self-exploration. Students have more freedom to create and investigate things they are interested in.”

Students involved in the Art School suggest that those interested in the arts, regardless of their major, take an art class or two before graduating.

“I know lots of people who aren’t art majors but have taken an art class just for fun, or because it meets a gen-ed, and they end up really falling in love with what they’re doing,” Stone said. “It’s not like the arts and sciences are separate from one another; I’m an art student, but my project is science-based.”

If people don’t have time to take an art class themselves, however, visiting the Honors Art Exhibit is still an option.

“We have various majors and classes in the School of Art and Art History,” Zhang said. “People can find so many artworks from different areas in this exhibition. The works are beautiful and unique. I strongly encourage people to come and take a look.”

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