A scholarship exhibition that opened this week is showing some of the best work from Ohio State art and design students.
The 28th Annual Fergus Scholarship Award Exhibition premiered Monday in the Hopkins Hall Gallery, featuring works by 15 graduate and undergraduate students, selected by faculty juries from the art; design; arts administration, education and policy; and history of art departments. The scholarship offers $1,000 to further the careers of its recipients and is open to all studio-based visual art and design majors.
The exhibition has no particular theme and simply asks applicants to submit their best work. This is exemplified by the broad range of mediums and subjects on display in the small gallery. There are glassworks, paintings, video displays and more spread throughout the room.
“It’s an honor. It’s exciting. Every opportunity is just — I feel lucky,” Maxwell Holden, a master’s student in ceramics and selected artist in the exhibition, said. “This can lead to another thing, and it’s always a stepping stone.”
Students were allowed to submit up to three pieces. Holden was selected for his piece, “Northwood Avenue,” a large pot with engravings of four stories he encountered when he first moved to his street in Columbus, Ohio. The piece speaks to the rapidly changing landscape of the city, even since Holden’s arrival two years ago.
Holden speaks most enthusiastically about the burning house carved onto one side of the pot. He said each of his neighbors has a different theory of what happened to the structure, which still stands on Holden’s block as a charred frame.
“I’ve taken a lot of folklore classes in my time here, and that’s really helped frame my work and given me a way to talk about stories and explore how we kind of build our own realities,” he said.
This is Holden’s first time applying for the competition. Applicants can only be selected once. He said he plans to spend his scholarship money on application fees for residencies, jobs and other competitions.
Chucen Chen, a master’s student in printmaking and another scholarship recipient, brought a very different kind of work to the gallery. Her selected piece is made up of two prints, entitled “The Future No. 1” and “The Future No. 2.”
The dark, messy pieces are made through a monoprint process, meaning they cannot be exactly reproduced, unlike most prints. Chen collected trash bags and painted them with a dark, foreboding black before pressing them into paper. She said the piece represents a relationship between her mental health and the health of the environment.
Chen and Holden both expressed that the professional advantages of being selected for an award such as this are rivaled only by the personal gratification of having their work on display. Chen said she thinks it’s important for her work to provoke thought and conversation.
“I still feel like I am kind of helping the environmental issues,” she said. “I express that kind of awareness to the people who could see my art. That’s the part I’m really excited about.”
Each submission must be accompanied by an artist’s statement. Chen’s lays out not only her process, but the emotion, intention and direction behind her work.
Both artists said they see exhibitions like this as an honor. Art is made to be seen, and to have it selected for display by their mentors is a point of pride.
“There’s a lot of really great artists here [in Columbus], and it’s a nice community to be in and recognized in,” Holden said.
The 28th Annual Fergus Scholarship Award Exhibition is located in the Hopkins Hall Gallery, which is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The exhibition runs until Jan. 24.