Students promote, sell works of art at the MUC

By Travis Gulbrandson

The Muenster University Center had something of an art gallery vibe late last week.

student artThat’s because on Thursday and Friday it was the venue of the annual Student Art Sale that was hosted by the Student Art Association of the USD College of Fine Arts.

At various times over the course of those two days, 15 students were on hand to discuss their work and sell it, too.

“It’s a good time for them to learn how to promote themselves, learn how to talk to the public about their work,” said Associate Professor Cory Knedler. “A lot of times, artists get tied up in the studio and don’t get to visit with the public, and also their work gets shipped off to galleries where the work is on display, but the galleries are elsewhere, and the artist is not always going to be present.

“This is kind of an opportunity where they can intermix, answer questions and make a little pocket change on the side,” he said.

Fifth-year senior Ethan Domke said the sale had received “a lot of traffic” from USD students and Vermillion residents alike.

“I like that it gives us as visual artists … some exposure within the college, and also, we’ve had people from the community who aren’t students or teachers come through, so they get a chance to see that we’re making these things, and we are willing to sell them,” Domke said. “They really like seeing the art, and it seems like a lot of people are doing some Christmas shopping at the event, which we kind of expected.”

Domke displayed abstract and representational watercolor paintings Thursday and Friday.

Kaia Nowetzki, who was selling and displaying jewelry, ceramic tableware and non-functional pieces, said she enjoyed interacting with the public.

“A lot of people love the texture that I do,” she said. “That’s my whole thing. I want people to pick up my work and feel it and have it fit in their hand.”

In addition to the students’ individual works, there were also pieces related to a project called Skate Create.

“Our advanced students in the Student Art Association worked with the undergraduate class (on the project),” Knedler said. “Advanced students wrote a mini-grant from the university, and they received funds to purchase one skateboard per freshman. …

“Each student’s job, then, was to create a unique image on the skateboard itself,” he said.

Some of the boards were for sale, while others were display-only.

“It’s a way of getting the advanced students to bond with the freshman students, hoping for them to get to know each other a little quicker,” Knedler said. “A lot of times, the freshman class are in classes with each other, but they’re not in classes with the advanced students usually until their sophomore year.”

The Student Art Sale is held each year, usually in December.

“It’s bounced back and forth between December and April,” Knedler said. “We try to do it toward the end of either semester. December’s nice, of course, because it’s right around that gift-buying time, but April is also a nice time because people are getting ready for graduation, and sometimes there’s some graduation gifts going on.

“The students have also had a full year then to acquire a lot of work that they can put on display,” he said.

In addition to making some money for the students themselves, Domke said the sale offered the Student Art Association a good opportunity to raise funds.

“That’s a good thing,” he said. “We’re building our budget up so we can do other things in the community.”

Knedler said the event offers the Student Art Association the opportunity to plan an event themselves, making all the arrangements from creating the work itself to contacting the university center for table space.

“We like to see the students get that experience when they’re in school, of setting up exhibitions, setting on sales, so they can ask if they have questions of the faculty,” he said.

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