This month, the University of Oklahoma celebrates 100 years of student artwork with a new exhibition at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. The 100th Annual School of Art and Art History Student Exhibition officially opened January 17 with a public reception and awards ceremony. The student exhibition is a prime way for students’ work to be seen in a museum setting, and the students get to experience firsthand the stress and excitement of being a part of an exhibition.
Awards are given to students each year, including the top award, the T.G. Mays Purchase Award, which is offered to a student whose artwork becomes a part of the museum’s permanent collection. The winner of this year’s T.G. Mays Award is Heather Eck, photography senior, for her landscape photograph Untitled. Her work may be simple, but she said this quality makes it special.
“In my world, simplicity is better and I wanted to provide a pause in the photograph from the everyday hustle and bustle of life,” Heather said. “I was inspired simply by the way the nature spoke to me. I’ve always felt connected to Mother Earth in a way that I don’t feel with anything else. To some, my work may be too minimal, but to others, my work may speak to their souls through the use of formalistic qualities.”
During the opening reception, the artists gathered to see the show and find out who won the awards. Heather said that when the T.G Mays Purchase Award was announced, she didn’t even hear her name called.
“I got a call on my phone from a friend and she said I won,” she said. “I said, ‘I won something? I did? Are you sure?’ I never thought I would win anything, mostly because I didn’t think my work was good enough in comparison to the rest of the amazing work in the show. I was in awe the whole time. I couldn’t believe I had won an award, especially the T. G. Mays Award! I’m still in a daze, to be honest.”
If you see the exhibition, you will immediately see the artistic talent of the students at OU. In fact, Heather said being surrounded by this talent is the best part of being in the show.
“Very few times in my life have I gotten be a part of something so brilliantly put together,” Heather said. “Walking around the exhibition space, I realized just how talented my peers are and I feel at home. I crave to be a part of something bigger, and this show grants that yearning.”
As for her future art career, Heather said winning this award has renewed her spirit and validated her choice in becoming an artist. Heather hopes that people who view her work enjoy seeing it as much as she enjoys creating it.
The exhibition is on display until February 16, so come by soon to see Heather’s work, along with the other student art in the show!