Monday, April 11, 2016

Drew Nikonowicz: This World and Others Like It

A new exhibition at the MU Student Center showcases the work of an up-and-coming photographer, Drew Nikonowicz, who will graduate from MU with a BFA in May, 2016. Three works from the artist's recent show in New York City are on display on the first floor of the MU Student Center's West End. This exhibition is on display until May 12, 2016.
First Floor of the MU Student Center, on display until May 12, 2016

Drew Nikonowicz (BFA, 2016) has garnered international recognition for his photography. His work explores the meaning of landscape in a 21st century world in which you can “be” anywhere with the click of a mouse. He draws on the traditions of landscape photography begun by artists like Ansel Adams and Timothy O’Sullivan, using large format photography printed in black and white. Nikonowicz also takes advantage of 21st century digital methods to fabricate landscapes. The results of the two creation methods, born-digital processes and traditional darkroom techniques, explore the contrasts of real and imagined landscapes and the viewer’s relationship to each. In his larger project, with the images displayed next to each other, it can be difficult to discern the fabricated from the real. This dichotomy of vision reminds the viewer that they are absorbing a construction of the artist’s vision and skill rather than a true vision made with one’s own eyes, no matter if the subject is real or created digitally.

In 2015, Nikonowicz won significant photography competitions with his project, This World and Others Like It. The Aperture Foundation’s 2015 Aperture Portfolio Prize included a gallery show in New York City. Upon awarding him first place in their 2015 Student Prize, the editors of Lenscratch, an international photography magazine, said:

    “His stark black and white capture is a nod to traditional markers of the landscape but it also unifies the idea of how we consider our world, whether from the viewpoint of a canyon’s edge with a 4 x 5 camera or within a uniquely created landscape of video gaming or even architectural rendering.” (Aline Smithson, Lenscratch, June 29, 2015)

The artist often uses photographs of photographs or photographs of images on a screen, which creates a tension of authorship and viewership. His images can be about looking at images or about looking a landscape or object.  Drew Nikonowicz problematizes the viewer’s relationship to the landscape. He reminds the viewer that their experience of that landscape is mediated, sometimes through multiple layers, via technology, society, and the lens of a camera.

To view more of Drew's work, visit his website at

The MU Student Unions' Public Arts Collection loves supporting our student artists.  If you are interested in submitting works for upcoming group shows or a possible solo show, please contact us at

Blog authored by Sarah S. Jones, Curator of Public Arts and Doctoral Candidate.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

TIGERS CREATE! Student Art on Display at MU Student Center

Mizzou students excel in many areas: sports, academics, citizenship and the arts. Two recent exhibitions highlight the creative talents of MU's students in the area of visual arts, sponsored by the MU Student Unions Public Arts Collection.

A Multi-Media 2-D Exhibition

Selections submitted by students in response to the Public Arts Collection's open "Call for Artists" populate a case in the Lower Lounge of the MU Student Center until April 1, 2016.  The call was issued at the beginning of the school year and submissions are accepted from students in any major.

The MU Student Unions Public Arts Collection accepts submissions from student artists for regular exhibitions in our public spaces. The project aims to highlight the creative abilities of the MU community and provide a forum for the public display of the results of those abilities. Submissions are requested in order to create a pool of student artists from which future temporary exhibitions can be drawn. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis with no set deadline. Suggested themes include student life, the diversity of the MU community, interpersonal expressions of creativity, or social justice matters. Other subjects may be considered as appropriate for our viewing audience.

Students interested in submitting work for consideration should contact the Curator of Public Arts at

Mizzou Student Art, Lower Lounge of the MU Student Center until April 1
The current exhibition in the Lower Lounge case features six student artists working in a variety of forms: drawing, photography, printmaking and watercolors. Each artist provided a statement about their work addressing the subject matter and their process of making. 

Exhibition List
Karesse Wilkey, Senior, Art - Emphasis in Drawing
Untitled from Classical Trash Series
Pen and ink, watercolor on paper

John Schneider, MFA student
MU Physics Building

Darrell Cruse, Senior, Fine Arts
Soular System
Oil Pastel

Jeremy Johnson, Freshman, Business/Undeclared
Sending Rainbows
Digital Photography

Brianna Veal, Sophomore, Film Studies
Micron ink on sketch paper

Thomas B. Officer, Freshman, Business Administration
Echoes and Whispers (366 Days Series)
Digital Photography

Simon Tatum: Walking Into Town

Simon Tatum, a Mizzou junior majoring in art, is a native of the Cayman Islands. This work and two others from the same series were recently featured in the inaugural Undergraduate Visual Art and Design Showcase. Tatum based the subjects of the series on photographs he found in Cayman National Archives.  His profile has recently been featured in the Columbia Tribune and MIZZOU Magazine. His recent work was included in the Undergraduate Visual Art and Design Showcase at Jesse Hall.
In Walking Into Town, a lone woman leans on her staff for support while walking away from her secluded home. Her body seems hunched and worn from labor. Is she dressed for a market day with a kerchief covering her head in deference to the sun and a bag slung over her shoulder?  The artist’s loose, painterly style creates pockets of deep contrast between the ink and the creamy ground, suggesting the dusty textures and heat of the scene.

Simon Tatum, Walking Into Town, Collection of the Artist, Lower Lounge, MU Student Center
 Artist’s Statement 
As a young man from the Cayman Islands, my artwork focuses on the personal exploration of my people and the important elements of our history, such as migration, maritime culture, slavery, segregation and religion. My recent projects revisit old photographs from the collection of the Cayman National Archive.  I create gestural representations from these photographs by finger painting with ink media onto a frosted acetate surface. I find the photographs in the Cayman Archive collection to be a source of buried truth, indicating and supporting towards the racial dignity of the Caymanian people. I also understand that these photographs no longer contain their original authority in modern Caymanian social politics. This is why I hope to employ the episodes of Cayman history that are represented in these photographs and find a new meaning from them that can be relevant towards the country’s current sociopolitical condition. 
Furthermore, these paintings signify my ambition to create artworks that will educate both Caymanian people and others from outside cultures on the relevance of Cayman history. One of the influences for these paintings stems from essays written by John Berger and Walter Benjamin (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction). Their essays spoke about the evolving purpose of artwork during the age of mechanical reproduction and helped me recognize the importance of the visual media when interpreting and reinterpreting the history of the Cayman Islands. My method of creating finger paintings on frosted acetate is related to the process of early film cameras which captured exposures on cellulose acetate film. Unlike the camera, I am able to make more biased decisions when interpreting the subjects of the original archive photographs. My physical, gestural marks and my research of Cayman history form a unique, personal inflection that transcends the documentary format of the photographs. My own inflection is necessary because it expresses my desire to reconnect with my history and situate it into the broader historical dialogue. - Simon Tatum, Fall 2015

The MU Student Unions Public Arts Collection supports our students in their creative endeavors. Please join us for more exhibitions in the future.

Blog post by Sarah S. Jones, Curator of Public Arts and PhD Candidate, Art History

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Purposeful Art: Illustrators at MU

A new exhibition presented by the Unions Public Art Collection recognizes the art of illustration and those MU alumni who have found success in commercial and illustration art. Please visit the first floor of MU Student Center, near the Shack, to see the display from now until January 20, 2016.

Illustration at MU

The National Museum of Illustration notes that:
"Illustration is art created to be reproduced in books, advertisements, periodicals, and in the new media. Unlike other more personal forms of art, illustration most often has a range of dictated parameters: aesthetics by assignment, publishing deadlines, specified subject matter, and the restraints of dimensions and format." [

Illustration is a integral part of the practice of mass communication. Today's world is a visual one and we are surrounded by images and text on a constant stream of visual information. Illustrators are often artists who have trained in fine art and another area that informs their specialization such as anatomy, engineering, science or architecture.  Illustrators work with authors and editors to develop books, both fictional and non-fictional, that allow readers to better understand the messages in the books' text.  Students of MU have practiced illustration in their own publications including the Savitar, MU's yearbook published annually for over 100 years, and the Missouri Show-Me, a humor magazine that provides a satiric view of campus life in the mid-twentieth century. It was during his time as a member of the Missouri Show-Me staff that Mort Walker developed the style of illustration that led to the creation of Beetle Bailey. Mort Walker is only one member of the long tradition of illustrators to study at the University of Missouri.

Mort Walker (American, born 1923), "Faculty", illustration for 1943 Savitar

Monte Crews: Americana and Magazines

Monte Crews, a native of Fayette, MO, began his advanced schooling at MU in 1905. He left Missouri in 1906 to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1908, Crews moved to the Art Students League in New York City where he roomed with author Homer Croy, another MU alum.  Crews returned to Fayette in 1910, where he married and began a family. He began teaching illustration at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1927 and eventually returned to the east coast to teach at art schools in New York and Philadelphia. During his teaching career, Crews continued to sell artwork to popular magazines including Boys’ Life, Liberty, Colliers, and The Saturday Evening Post. He was also known for illustrating mass-market paperback novels commonly called “pulp fiction.” Crews returned to MU to give a lecture to Journalism students in 1914 and drew illustrations for the several editions of the Savitar in the 1900s and 1910s.

Monte Crews (American, 1886-1946), "Graduate", illustration for 1908 Savitar
A painting by Crews, graciously loaned by the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University in Fayette, MO, is included in this exhibition.  

This image was created as a cover illustration for Liberty magazine and published on August 29, 1936.  Magazine and book covers exposed the general audience to work of popular American artists in the early twentieth century. Billed as “A Weekly for Everybody,” Liberty magazine, a peer to the Saturday Evening Post, was published from 1924 to 1950. Liberty published short fiction and articles of general interest, some items contributed by the era’s premiere writers and artists including P.G. Wodehouse, Walt Disney, Dashiell Hammett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Winston Churchill, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Leon Trotsky, among many others.

Monte Crews, Boy with Punching Bag, ca. 1936, oil on canvas, cover art for Liberty magazine, Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, Central Methodist University, Fayette, MO

Medical Illustration: Science meets Art

According to the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI), a medical illustrator is “a visual problem solver” who collaborates with scientists, physicians and other medical professionals by “transform[ing] complex information into visual images that have the potential to communicate to broad audiences.”[i] The MU School of Medicine offered a masters’ degree in medical illustration in the 1960s and 1970s. Anatomical drawing was also an essential part of medical education at MU in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

A pioneer of medical illustration served on the staff of the MU Medical Center and School of Medicine from 1966 to 1974.  Ruth Coleman Wakerlin (1917-2010, MA ‘71) received the AMI’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. Her long career included ground-breaking work in three-dimensional modeling for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, IL. (fig. 1) In 1993, Wakerlin wrote that a medical illustrator need “research competence and drive as well as a pattern of lifelong learning…”[ii] Medical illustration is an important element in the research and education activities of medical schools.

Ruth Coleman Wakerlin (American, 1917-2010), "Transparent model of a pregnant female for Miracle of Growth exhibition, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL, 1947

Today, the staff and faculty of the MU Medical School work with Stacy Turpin Cheavens to develop illustrations for their scientific publications and simulations. Cheavens combined her interests in art and biology after receiving her BA in biological science from MU in 2000.  She has studied anatomical drawing and sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. Cheavens received her Masters of Science degree in medical illustration at Georgia Regents University, where she studied anatomy together with medical students. She is the only certified medical illustrator on staff in the MU School of Medicine. Please visit for more this intersection of art and science.

[i] “Learn About It,” Association of Medical Illustrators, accessed 20 Oct 2015,
[ii] Linda Wilson-Pauwels and Chris Gralapp. “Ruth Coleman Wakerlin: A Visionary Leader,” Journal of Biocommunication, v. 36, n. 3 (2010) E102.


Charles W. Schwartz: Picturing Nature in Missouri

Missouri wildlife became the primary source material for Charles W. Schwartz, a native of the St. Louis area. His decades-long career as a biologist and staff artist for the Missouri Conservationist established him as scholar and leader in the conservation movement. He received degrees in zoology from the University of Missouri in the late 1930s. In 1938, he married Elizabeth, a fellow student in zoology. Charles and “Libby” began a lifelong partnership that resulted in widely acclaimed books and movies, including the 1959 The Wild Mammals of Missouri. A print by Schwartz is a recent addition to the Missouri Student Unions' Public Arts Collection.

Charles W. Schwartz, Eagle in Flight with Catfish, undated

Eagles served as a symbol of strength for the Roman legions of the ancient world. The majestic bald eagle, with its white head and tail feathers and dark brown body, was adopted as the symbol of the infant United States of America by Congress in June, 1782, after it had been incorporated as a primary element in the new country’s Great Seal. Thus, the bald eagle has become synonymous with American patriotism. The Missouri State Capitol on the bank of the Missouri River dominates the background and solidifies the patriotic theme of this print

However in Charles W. Schwartz’s image, the eagle serves a dual purpose as symbol of patriotism and ecology.  The combination of the eagle and the Missouri Capitol building supports a patriotic interpretation of the scene, but the catfish in its claws speaks to the eagle’s place in the ecosystem as a predator. Schwartz’s choice of the hunting bald eagle and its catfish prey for a subject blends his dedication to conservation. The catfish also reminds the viewer of the bounty provided by Missouri’s natural amenities.

Please visit the first floor of MU Student Center, near the Shack, to see the exhibition "Illustration at MU" from now until January 20, 2016.

Blog authored by Sarah S. Jones, PhD. Candidate and Curator of Public Arts, Missouri Student Unions.