‘It’s like the Academy Awards’

Juried exhibition features 147 pieces of student artwork

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John Pena, a senior finance major, looks at “From Yesterday to Forever” by junior Ryan McKain Sunday afternoon at the 2016 USI Juried Student Art Exhibition. “I see new faces everytime,” he said. “I wonder how long it took.”

Megan Thorne
John Pena, a senior finance major, looks at “From Yesterday to Forever” by junior Ryan McKain Sunday afternoon at the 2016 USI Juried Student Art Exhibition. “I see new faces everytime,” he said. “I wonder how long it took.”

Families, friends and supporters stood shoulder to shoulder, smiling, hugging and congratulating student artists.

As they walked around the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries, many stopped to look at “From Yesterday to Forever” by Ryan McKain.

The junior studio art major won “Best in Show” Sunday afternoon at the 46th annual USI Juried Student Art Exhibition. The show features 147 pieces of student artwork chosen from 397 submitted.

McKain won the award for a two-dimensional painting.

He said he has made more meaningful pieces lately that deal with bullying and getting picked on.

“They are either being picked on for a good reason or a bad reason,” McKain said. “So it deals with the ups and downs of what everyone goes through in life, good or bad.”

He said he felt weird receiving the award again after recieving it last year for a three-dimensional piece.

“Before I started taking classes, I would do a lot of painting and sculptures, but I was just self-taught,” he said. “I really didn’t know the right ways of doing anything, even this painting. I think what I have learned through myself over time.”

He describes the painting as more of a mirage because of the detail and the way the painting covers the canvas completely.

“I stayed with five colors, so a solid color scheme, and it is easy to work with but hard to balance stuff out,” he said.

He said he worked on the piece on and off for a month last year and returned to it this year.

“(The painting) may not be finished,” McKain said. “But it is for now.”

Kathryn Waters, director of the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries, said juror Jim Bryant, a graphic design professor and printmaker at Murray State University, did well when it came to selecting the art.

Waters said they awarded $9,000 in scholarships, merit awards and some purchase awards, which will go into the university’s collection.

At one point, Waters said she was happy to see all the support the students had from families, friends and significant others.

“It was like the academy awards,” Waters said smiling.

Kiara Perkins, a senior studio art major, was awarded the Academic Achievement in two-dimensional Studio Art scholarship. She said she appreciates anyone who appreciates her artwork.

“It’s encouraging.” Perkins said. “It’s always good to make money off of what I really want to do.”

This is Perkins’ fourth year entering artwork into the show. This year, she entered a self-portrait titled “One Time I Ate My Feelings” and won a merit award for a painting of roses, titled “Vancouver Roses.”

“I took a trip to Alaska and Vancouver (in Canada) over the summer,” she said. “They have this big park with just so many roses. It’s just amazing. I’m inspired by nature and food.”

Perkins said her drawing took more than 30 hours, which isn’t nearly as much time as she spends on other pieces.

“It’s really just about encouraging yourself and believing in yourself,” Perkins said. “Nobody is going to have your back like you do, and you really have to be your own No. 1 supporter. It is exhausting, sometimes, and sometimes you don’t feel confident in your work, but you have to keep going regardless.”

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