Student art exhibit in library addresses inclusive community

An Oct. 25 reception in the Knight Library Browsing Room marked the opening of "Show Up, Stand Out, Empower," an exhibition of original artwork created by UO students to express their aspirations for an inclusive and respectful culture. The art will be on display in the main Knight Library exhibit cases through winter term, 2019.

Sponsored by the UO Libraries and the Division of Equity and Inclusion, the show was conceived as part of the continuing dialogue on how people can strive for an inclusive environment while using artifacts representative of the contrary for educational purposes.

Adriene Lim, dean of libraries and Philip H. Knight Chair, said that two protests have occurred in Knight Library over the past three years, centered around some students' passionate opposition to the content of certain historic murals which are integrated into the original architecture of the building.  

"The library has been recognized as a distinctive example of the creative efforts of artists and artisans employed by Depression-era public works programs," Lim said. "But times have changed since the building and its artifacts were created, and many have noted that the murals in the historic library’s stairwells reflect the racism and misogyny commonplace at the time the art was created. In important ways, changes have occurred to combat these harmful ideologies in our society, but more progress is needed. Our call for students’ artistic responses was intended to help advance that aim, by promoting the more inclusive, just culture that many of us aspire to have.”​ Image from poster promoting the Show Up, Stand Out, Empower exhibit in Knight Library. Deanna Chappell Belcher, a graduate student in the Department of Education Studies, created the work named best of show by the jury. She received the $1,000 prize for "Decolonization is not a metaphor (with thanks to Tuck & Yang)," a mixed-media work on canvas and Plexiglas.

"I was inspired by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s article by the same name," Belcher wrote in her artist's statement. "The collage underneath shows symbols of settler colonialism across the Pacific Northwest, while the Plexiglas speaks of possibilities, especially the possibility of education .... Our history is something we cannot ignore, but at the same time we cannot let it prevent us from thinking of a more beautiful future, and working to make that happen. Education is how I work to make the impossible come to be."

The winner of the dean's choice award was Geordi Helmick, an undergraduate majoring in art and technology. For a class assignment, she created her $700 prize-winning entry, "I Carry This with Me." It is an artist's book assembled with recycled, handmade paper, digital drawings and typewriter text.

Juror's choice awards of $150 also were presented to student-artists Elexus Greene for her acrylic painting "Ancestry: Listen to Your Ancestors," Rebecca P. Mattingly for her charcoal drawing "Facing Reform" and Benj Zeller for his mixed-media work "Reality is Technicolor."

In addition to the prizes awarded by the jury, a people's choice award of $700 will be conferred to the work which receives the most votes through an online survey. The deadline to vote is November 21. View the works by clicking through the gallery at the top of this page or come to Knight Library and view them in person.

Update, 12/6/2018: "Reality is Technicolor" by Benj Zeller was the winner of the People's Choice Award.

—By Jason Stone, University Communications

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