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April 28, 2014

NCTC student artists come from all walks of life

Gainesville — “Wow” is a word frequently heard from visitors who are touring the North Central Texas College (NCTC) bi-annual student art exhibit at the Visual Arts Center on the Gainesville campus through May 2.

The latest group of artists finishing up classes offered this semester at the facility has surpassed even the expectations of  NCTC Visual Arts instructor and program coordinator Jimmy Staples.

“We have had a really strong body of work this semester,” Staples said. “From metal working to painting and from ceramics to jewelry making, we not only have had a variety of interests but a variety of students.”

 “The work on display this week consists of mixed media pieces incorporating both man-made and organic materials,” Staples explained. “Many of the bronze works, while utilizing what is normally considered a traditional medium, are effectively executed and presented in a contemporary composition. Also included are outstanding works from ceramics, painting, jewelry and metals.”

Staples said that many people in the area don’t realize that they do not have to be the “traditional” student to take the classes offered at the college.

“This semester we had all ages from all walks of life, doing something they just always wanted to try,” Staple continued.

“With our forge, we can now offer metal classes and it has been really popular for those interested in working with bronze. We even had a 65 year old retiree who learned to work with and pour bronze, something he always wanted to do but never had the time or access to equipment. At NCTC we have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment that is available in our classes for our students.”

The visual arts building has even lured NCTC president Dr. Eddie Hadlock away from his busy schedule running the college. Retiring this year, Hadlock has become just one of the students exploring his creative side while working with glass and bronze in several classes.

“Dr. Hadlock has blended in with our classes and has discovered a creativity he always wanted to explore,” Staples said. “He is a great example of someone who continues to want to learn.”

Staples said that the student exhibit will be open to the public for viewing now through Friday May 2. The hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Rewarding their hard work, Staples stated that there will be some cash awards given during the event.

“There will be three cash awards presented with local nationally known artist Donna Howell Sickles on hand making a $500 scholarship available,” Staples advised. “Schad and Pulte of Gainesville will be presenting two $50.00 awards to works demonstrating the inclusion and manipulation of metal, and finally the people’s choice Award of $50.00 where the public can post a ballot for their favorite piece when they sign the guest book.”

 “This exhibit is the culmination of a semester’s work for our students,” Staples continued. “They have a lot of time and effort in the work and it shows. With the public taking time to stop in, it is a pat on the back they deserve and appreciate.”

 For other aspiring artists in the community who think they just do not have any artistic ability yet have the desire to create, Staples advises them to step out of the box and come see what color or glaze or patina could add to their lives.

“Some of our students even surprise themselves,” Staples said. “Since many have never taken an art class or been exposed to an industrial environment that requires critical thinking and the utilization of multimedia and processes, they enter the classes not knowing really what to expect or how to go about getting started.”

 Staples said that a large part of the learning curve for students is getting through this initial stage of problem solving and experiencing the normal anxiety that all encounter when working with the unknown.

“About the middle of the creative process when their work is materializing into more than just an idea, that is when you see the anxiety being replaced with confidence,” he continued. “This is an exciting part of the process for both teacher and student. However, it is only when the work is completed and on display that a student can really put the whole journey from concept, analysis, material selection and finally execution into perspective.”

“The completed art work is a reflection of the individual’s desire to create their unique and individual piece,”

 “The personal sense of accomplishment and pride of success is evident in the students and I am proud of them for their perseverance,” Staples explained.

“I’m not here to tell them what to make,” Staples said. “I am here to help each student make their project better. We want to make sure that everyone gets what they need out of their class.”

“Come check everything out,” he encouraged. “You never know, the next piece of art you collect may just be one you make yourself.”

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