Student art finds a permanent home at Drake
Old Main is a timeless symbol of strength and tradition. Built in 1883 as the first permanent building on the Drake University campus, it’s a Des Moines landmark. From the outside, all you see is classic architecture. Adorning the walls and offices inside, however, select pieces of art exemplify the spirit of change and diversity the University embraces.
These works, winners of the Annual Provost Purchase Award for original student artwork, add not only color, charm and life to this grand old building, but a sense of balance — demonstrating Drake’s eagerness to embrace progress while cherishing tradition and convention.
The Provost Purchase Award is given in conjunction with awards for the Juried Student Art Exhibition, held at the Anderson Gallery each spring. Each year’s winner is on display in the Office of the Provost for the following year and then moved to another location on campus.
This year’s winner, Horizontal Piece by Lucca Wang, AS’11, JO’11, hangs in the corridor area outside the provost’s office. Its deep blues and reds complement and enrich the colors in the space; its dark, quirky feel provides plenty for passersby to ponder.
The purchase award indicates that, not only did the judges think highly of the winning piece, but that they thought enough of it to acquire it.
Wang brought her family to the provost’s office to show them her work and says she is honored by the award.
“The award signifies that the faculty, who I have learned so much from and look up to, value my work enough to keep my Horizontal Piece for years to come,” says Wang. “It feels amazing. I cannot wait to come back in several years and revisit my piece.”
Many of the recent Provost Purchase Award art pieces become an integral part of the surroundings and remain in or near the Provost’s office area even after the first year and never stray far from the west end of the main floor of Old Main.
Last year’s winner, a metal and wood sculpture from Andrew DeBroux, AS’10, entitled Great Blue Heron, currently lives in the office the associate provost.
“The sculpture draws a lot of comments. It definitely is different than what people usually see in a business office,” says Interim Provost Sue Wright. “And when I look at it, it makes me smile.”
Highlighting bright, new talent
“As a visible sign of support for our art students, the Provost Purchase Award is the most popular award given as part of the Juried Art Exhibition,” explains Heather Skeens, director of the Anderson Gallery in the Harmon Fine Arts Center. “The students recognize the selection of the artwork is made by their professors, adding special value to the recognition. Also, the Provost Purchase Award is the only award in which student artwork is purchased by the University for permanent exhibition on Drake’s campus.”
The Juried Student Art Exhibition is an important professional opportunity for students and a chance for the Drake and central Iowa communities to view an excellent art exhibition by bright new talent.
“It is important for the school to value the work of its students, and there is no better way to support them and have their actual work to reference in the future,” says Wang. “The Provost Purchase Award shows the school’s excitement for work students are creating and pursuing. It is a celebration for the Fine Arts, the University, faculty, administration, family and friends.”