It doesn’t take a scholarly background in art for students to land in a gallery downtown, with help from the Arts Scholars program.
The Urban Arts Space will host the Art Scholars Exhibition, featuring selected works from Arts Scholars students, beginning Tuesday through the end of January. The pieces span various mediums, from acrylic paint to video documentary, and represent the diverse backgrounds of the students involved in the program.
The Arts Scholars program places incoming first-years into a community together in Baker Hall West, where they are exposed to all art disciplines, including visual and performance-based mediums, according to the Arts Scholars website. Like all Scholars programs, students are not required to major in the area of interest to apply. According to the site, about half of the roughly 300 Arts Scholars students are studying subjects unrelated to arts.
The annual exhibition, taking place downtown in the entryway of Ohio State’s Urban Arts Space, is open to all Arts Scholars, but pieces or proposals must be submitted with an artist’s statement to a jury for selection. One piece each year is selected as Best in Show, and the artist is awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
Megan Wright, a fourth-year in art and technology, was one of the selected artists in this year’s exhibition. Her submission consisted of two short films, one being a documentary about three of her biracial friends.
“I wanted to kind of let them tell their stories about what it’s like to be biracial and mixed and having trouble connecting with their cultures since they switch between two cultures,” Wright said.
Her other piece is a two-dimensional animation about her experience as a Chinese person adopted by an American family. She said both videos have a similar theme of dual identity.
“I feel like this is a self-reflection piece about feeling like I have two sides to myself, like my American side and my Chinese side,” Wright said. “So I think this was a good way for me to express myself without using words.”
This is Wright’s fourth year being selected for the exhibition, something she said she is proud of each time. She said she can look back at previous submissions and see how she has grown as an artist and person.
Her first Arts Scholars Exhibition was the first juried exhibition she had ever been accepted for.
“It makes me feel validated, in a way, because growing up I’ve always loved doing arts-related stuff and drawing,” Wright said. “But to finally have my artwork that I’ve been working months on, maybe even a year, to be put in a professional setting where people are going to be looking at this and judging it, critiquing it, I still think it’s a great experience.”
Jessica Sunderhaft, another selected artist, submitted an acrylic painting loaded with personal significance. “Wonderment” portrays her two young neighbors from home catching fireflies together. She used to babysit the girls and wanted to capture their childish fascination with the simple things in life.
Sunderhaft, a first-year in strategic communication and moving image production, said this is her first time being accepted to a juried exhibition. She said she wouldn’t have this sort of opportunity if it wasn’t for the Arts Scholars program.
“This is one of those things where I normally wouldn’t be able to show something off to the public that I would be proud of,” Sunderhaft said. “Usually, I’m just showing my friends or family.”
She said she typically posts her artwork to social media, but getting the opportunity to display it in a public space is important to her. Sunderhaft said this is just one of the many experiences she wouldn’t get without Arts Scholars.
“I’m a very artistically oriented person, and I think finding a group of people who share the same interests, appreciations and ambitions is really helpful,” Sunderhaft said.
The Arts Scholars Exhibition begins Tuesday and runs until Feb. 1 in the entryway of the Urban Arts Space. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A full list of the featured artists can be found on the Urban Arts Space’s website.