Arts Spotlight: One Student, an Empty Exhibition Case, and a Huge Art Sale

Jennifer Clark in front of the exhibition case she designed at Talley Student Union. (Photo/Jackson Hughes)

Jennifer Clark, NC State student Fashion and Textile Management major ‘21, designs her life and an exhibition case the same: full of art!   

This pandemic might keep us physically apart, but the arts are still engaging and connecting our community. As part of our Arts Spotlight series, Arts NC State will be featuring articles on students, organizations, and faculty/staff who are creating and making. 

How and why did you get involved in the arts on campus? 

I was part of my art community in high school and coming to college I didn’t want to lose that part of me, so I decided to join the Arts Village as a freshman. This allowed me to live and immerse myself with other students who had a passion for art – whether that was music, dance, or visual. The Arts Village allowed me to stay connected to the arts on campus and I became an Arts Village Mentor my sophomore year. As a result of Arts Village,  Arts NC State became a big part of my experiences and when the moment came around for me to be part of the art community even closer, I jumped on the opportunity! I have worked as a student assistant and an administrative intern in the Provost’s Professional Experience Program for the administrative office at Arts NC State. I  have had the privilege to be part of the Arts NC State community and have a one-on-one experience with the arts culture at NC State. 

What have been some of your favorite projects while working at Arts NC State? 

For the past three years, I have worked on a variety of projects and events, such as conducting research on emergency management practices in university art venues, helping direct traffic at NC State LIVE School Matinee Series, planning and participating in internal departmental and advisory board events, various activities in the Crafts Center, coordinating an outdoor sketching class, setting up for the Student Art Sale, performing office tasks and numerous others projects.

One of my all-time favorite projects was to curate an exhibition display case that highlights the Student Art Sale and student artwork. The case is located in front of Stewart Theatre in Talley Student Union. 

Over the past semester, I was able to work closely with a graphic designer, which was a great opportunity for me to better understand how to work with an artist. I also enjoyed seeing my vision for the case become reality, and it was a great accomplishment once it was done.  

What is the focus of the exhibition case? 

I wanted the focus of this exhibition case to be the art and artist and to keep the colors and display design simplistic so the art was the focus of the exhibit. I wanted a museum-like feel to it, so we designed it to catch an observer’s eye even walking from afar. I enjoyed working on it, because it allowed me connect to many different people in order for it to come together and for me to create one complete display. 

Did you connect with any of the student artists who participated in the sale while you were working on it? 

          While working on this project, I reached out to two students to get a better understanding of what it’s like to participate in the art show, and specifically last year when it was put online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was very interesting to talk to them, and this helped me to learn more about the importance and impact the art show has on the students. 

The sale allows students to share their art with the community both on and off campus, where otherwise this would be very hard for them to do. Listening to them talk about the effect the art show has on them showed me how important it was for my display to spread the message of the art show. With this, I wanted to let the artists from past years, whose art that Arts NC State purchased, be the stars of the display. The students are the most important and essential part of the sale.

I’ve included below a few quotes from this discussion:

Kailyn Byers, a third year student majoring in graphic design, has participated in the sale for the  last three years and spoke about  its benefit to her as a growing  artist.

 For me I enjoy doing the art sale as it’s a great opportunity to get your art out there (which can be kind of difficult, especially for a new or aspiring artist) and also gives you the chance to see all the other amazing student artists across all sorts of different  majors, not just art based ones. The sale helps me as an artist as it motivates me to make more art for people to enjoy and also helps make connections as an artist, as well as gets my art to be viewed by all sorts of different people. 

Anna Howell, a third year majoring in graphic design, has participated in the sale since she was a freshman and spoke about the effect of the sale going online this year, and the importance the sale has on her art.

 I think the art sale going online was a huge success. Last year, I actually sold out of all of my pieces that I submitted. I think one of the biggest successes of it was the fact that I could create more than the standard five pieces and have the possibility of selling more. It also gave me a way to personally interact with a lot of buyers, which I’m not able to do for the in-person art sale. If someone wanted to talk to me about a specific piece or for a commission, all they had to do was message me. I can also personalize how they get the piece with the packaging and maybe putting in a personalized thank you note, and elements like that really help a small artist. 

Since I’ve started participating in it, I think I’ve improved greatly in my art because I’ve been able to practice my techniques and I’ve learned skills from other artists that also participate in it. It’s a great way to show students that no matter what you’re majoring in or what your main career will be, if you want to produce art, you can. Personally, this art sale has given me the confidence to  actually sell my art and realize that more people  like it other than me.

As you are nearing graduation, what is your take away from your involvement in the arts on campus? 

As graduation is approaching, I think back on my time at Arts NC State and truly every moment has been special and has given me experience beyond what I thought I would ever get in college. Just being able to be part of the inner workings has taught me so much on what it means to be part of an organization on campus. I have been able to work with incredible people who have taught me to work hard and care about what I put my mind to. I have learned that I can accomplish anything as long as I am determined and put all my effort into it. Working at Arts NC State has taught me to be more responsible. Throughout the years I have been taught to be held accountable because when people rely on you it is important to always try and do what you say you will. I think these are lessons that I can take forward with me to use in future jobs and of course, being part of Arts NC State nurtured my love of the arts.  

What are your plans for the future? 

I am still exploring different possibilities but I am considering Teach for America or becoming a fashion design apprentice but whatever it ends up being, there will always be art in my life!

Contributing writer Christy Rain