Union Art Council works to decorate student center for Public Art Project

Artwork on display includes a 10-foot bronze tiger created by the competition’s first winner.

MU students’ artwork is about to take over the MU Student Center.

The Union Arts Council will be installing student pieces from the Public Art Project competition in the student center this semester.

The competition, which is in its third year, requires students to enter proposals for a piece based on a certain theme. The council commissions the work for the winner.

Adjunct professor Chris Morrey created a proposal for a bronze tiger that won the first competition. He won an $8,000 commission that allowed him to create the 10-foot-tall statue. For the second year of the competition, art professor Jo Stealey assigned the project as part of her class curriculum.

“I presented that as part of my syllabus one semester to my advanced and graduate student classes,” Stealey said. “They were all required to do a proposal because this gave them real-life experience on how to put together a proposal and present it to the Public Arts Project.”

The Union Arts Council is working to put artwork in the Social Justice Center in the student center. Although in other years students have been allowed to create sculptures, this year pieces must be able to be affixed to a wall due to space limitations.

For this competition there is no deadline, Student and Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said. The council will take submissions for proposals until they have a gained a certain amount. The proposals will then be displayed and students can give feedback about who should win.

When this competition was posted last year, there were no submissions. The council is hoping that will not be the case this semester, Froese said. 
In addition to the commission of their art, students can also win gift cards to the bookstore.

“For some of the students’ submissions there may be a gift card involved, depending on what we’re looking at, like the scope of the art project,” Froese said. “For the first (competition) we knew we wanted to have a really large piece that would go in the student center, so we had funding for that — but it changes every year.”

She said the council wants to enhance what MU has to offer visually at the MU Student Center.

“If you’ve been in the student center, you know there’s a lot of space that is available — but we didn’t want to just throw up something on wall just because it matches the sofa,” Froese said. “We felt like because these are public places that exposure to art is important.”

She said the council is also working to create room for art exhibits in the student center, in hopes of someday hosting travelling art exhibits.

“Up in the traditions lounge, the photographs are very Mizzou-related, but they don’t necessarily have to be everywhere, and I don’t think they should be either,” she said. “I think we should have a variety.”

Froese said the student center was nominated for a City of Columbia Image Award. The winner, which will be decided later this fall, will receive a custom made sculpture.

Morrey said it is important to have art displayed in the building.

“If you don’t display art, then you don’t have something other than the functional parts of your world, it’s like a whole part of your mind has been shut off,” he said. “It turns into just a roof and walls and we’re better than that, we have more to say than that.”

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