March 18, 2011

This article was orginally published on on February 21, 2011. It was written by Linda Dautreuil and is being posted with her permission.

Part of education in the visual arts, particularly within a university, is the experience of submitting artwork for exhibition. For some, exhibition means an opportunity for building credentials; for others, it is an opportunity for sales; and for most, it is an opportunity to experience the process and prepare for the inevitable acceptance or rejection.

One is clearly more pleasant than the other. The competitive nature of many exhibitions is not as daunting as one might expect, particularly since the possibilities of artwork finding an audience are greater than ever before, thanks to digital imaging and the Internet.

The real question is why artists continue to submit. For those who value sales opportunity, the juried or judged exhibition is not the preferred route. Most often there is a non-refundable entry fee, which means that if the work is declined by the juror, the artist is in the hole as well as out of the exhibition.

For those who have work accepted into the exhibition and who value building a professional exhibition record, the exhibition becomes a listing for the curriculum vitae; and should the piece take an award, the artwork receives recognition.

For the sturdy believers who value the experience of moving through the process despite the possibility of rejection, the exhibition is an opportunity for the artwork to connect with an audience in real time.

Typically, for most juried exhibitions, the artist is expected to submit one to three digital images that meet specifications such as file size and type. All images are assembled and assigned a number. They do not include the name of the artist so the jury process is blind, at least theoretically. Artists who exhibit extensively may be recognized; however, that alone does not insure success or failure for inclusion in the exhibition.

Most jurors have an idea of how many works of art can be accommodated within an exhibition space, and this space limitation also influences the number of artists and artwork accepted.

Very often, student shows limit entries to those enrolled in art classes. Louisiana State University’s 20-year-old Juried Student Art Exhibition, sponsored by LSU’s Union Art Gallery, allows students from a variety of different departments to enter. Recently, the LSU Student Union Art Advisory Committee announced the winners and selected artworks for the 2011 Juried Student Art Show, an exhibition that is free and available to the public.

Jurors Diego Larguia, painting instructor at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, and photographer James Baldridge, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, selected 62 pieces by 44 different artists from the 154 art works submitted. Prizes totaling $2,400 were awarded.

Jacob Zeairs of Mandeville, a junior in the College of Engineering, Environmental Studies, won first place and $600 for his cyanotype titled, “?”. The title of works of art may seem enigmatic to those new to an appreciation of art and the art history of the 20th and 21st centuries. Learning more about the process and why the artist made the work challenges the viewer to think more closely about what the artist wishes to express and, in the process, encourages the viewer’s interpretation to enter into the mix.

In this case, the viewer is forced to see the cyanotype as an image rather than an illustration of a real structure filled with nostalgia of place. Many artists find it more interesting to separate the object from its original function. More commonly in recent years, artists share some of their ideas, giving clues about the meaning of the artwork. In this case, Zeairs traveled to New Orleans in 2010 on a photography class assignment. Zeairs knew that his concept was to locate an iconic structure that could also stand as a testament to the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. He suspected that the abandoned roller coaster at a heavily damaged amusement park stood as a symbol of happier times in New Orleans, and he felt the convergence of the lines, angles, and shadows would produce a picture that would cause the viewer to become lost in the image.

In this way, the image might generate meaning on multiple levels. Originally, the photograph was black and white, but Zeairs wanted more and he decided to print with blue tones using the cyanotype process to emphasize the intricate details. Cyanotype is a classic, traditional process which has been used in engineering for the production of blue prints. Chemicals give the work a distinctive blue color. Creative use of the process evoked a rich feeling that seemed right for Zeairs’ purpose. Apparently, the jurors agreed.

According to Zeairs, “Photography is my passion. I see environmental engineering as a profession which will allow me to support myself, travel, and give back to the earth.”

Zeairs recognizes the inclusive attitude of the photography department. In particular, he recognizes Tom Neff, photography professor, who encouraged him to take classes that helped him grow as a photographer. Zeairs has used his time well since leaving St. Bernard Parish after Katrina, relocating with his family to Mandeville, and continuing his busy schedule at LSU.

Other St. Tammany student/artists selected for exhibition were Christine Diggs of Covington, senior in the College of Art and Design, for her watercolor, “Silent Applause”; juniors in the College of Art and Design, Kelsey Cook of Mandeville for the oil painting, “Gypsy”; Jessica Plauche of Mandeville for her cyanotype, “Slumboy, Bolivia,” and sophomore Taylor Wells, also from Mandeville, for her oil painting “Untitled.”

The exhibition opened with a reception on Feb. 11 and will run until March 10 in the LSU Student Union Art Gallery, Raphael Semmes Road on the LSU campus, Baton Rouge. For more information about the exhibition, contact the LSU Student Union Art Gallery at 225.578.5124 or e-mail


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