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The Appalachian

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Journey of the Mind: A sneak peak into the emerging student art show

The Universities Libraries at App State are piecing together a new student art contest for the 2023-24 academic year. The top three contest winners will receive a monetary reward and a permanent wall display of their pieces in the Belk Library and Information Commons. 

Entries will be collected until  Dec. 6 and judged during the spring 2024 semester.

The library invites students from any campus or major to participate in this year’s competition. The theme is Journey of the Mind: Exploring the University Experience. Students are encouraged to create pieces representative of themselves and their lived experiences both on and off campus. 

Hannah Pope, the emerging technologies librarian who has worked at App State for seven years, is the head coordinator for bringing this contest to life. She talked about how the open-ended theme is designed for students to be able to explore their own interpretations, experimenting with different art forms, dimensions and mediums to create a montage of original and diverse pieces. 

There will be a total of five winners. The first place winner will receive $500, second place $400 and three honorable mentions will be awarded $200 each. The blind judging panel consists of six members, half being faculty/staff persons involved in the arts and the other half being students from various organizations who play a part in the library or arts. Participants who are not named winners are welcome to donate their art to the library or take it back. 

Pope said many other librarians and staff in the building noticed a gap that could be filled in the library decor.

“The art we had wasn’t representative of the current student body,” Pope said. “The main focus of the monetary incentive was to show students that their work is valuable and that the library is a safe place for them.”

The campus library is working to make the contest one that allows students to actively participate in decorating the library walls with art illustrative of who they are. 

“The library is a building that’s for all of the students, and we want them to feel like they are a part of the fabric of the building,” Pope said. “A really good way to do that is to showcase art from their perspective.” 

Pope said the library is hoping to have enough participation in order to carry on this competition annually or biennially to maintain a collection of student art that is built upon over the years. 

Breanne Crumpton, the information literacy librarian for humanities, is another contributor to the effort of this contest. 

Crumpton said the core mission of the Universities Libraries is the desire for students to be successful on whatever paths they choose, feeling a strong sense of belonging and community. She acknowledged that academia has “historically been very exclusionary, and the ramifications of that are still obvious today.” 

However, Crumpton said opening walls to student art hopefully shows students who visit the library spaces that “they are seen, they belong and we want them to be here.”

“Getting more student art into our spaces and visible is a starting point of what I hope will be broader conversations on how we can make the Universities Libraries a space for students to grow and be,” Crumpton said.

The student art competition is a way for the students to feel connected to their sense of place and for the library to have a mini makeover to include the works of those who make it all possible. 

Jewel Davis, the president of the assembly on literature for adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English discussed the library’s emphasis on establishing a sense of community.

“This competition is an opportunity to do so by intentionally making spaces in our physical building that highlight and showcase student’s creative voices and experiences on campus,” Davis said. 

After all of the entries are taken in, judging will take place and the temporary exhibit will be assembled during the early spring semester. There will be a First Friday event in March where participants are invited to hear the announcement of the winners. Individuals will be able to walk around the gallery and see the official opening of the exhibit. 

More information and to see the criteria for the dimensions and other details can be found on the main library’s website.

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About the Contributor
Riley Proserpi is a junior digital journalism major and apparel design and marketing minor.
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