Octagon Center hosts national art exhibit in Ames


Jonathan North/Iowa State Daily

“Just Between Us” by Carly Ludwig, sophomore in integrated studio arts, is on display at the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames as part of its annual all media exhibition. It is one of many submitted by ISU students that will be on display there between Jan. 23 and April 4.

Kyndal Reimer

Located in the Main Street Cultural District in downtown Ames, the Octagon is a cornerstone for local art. However, despite it’s local focus, the gallery is currently holding a national art exhibit. 

The Octagon Center for the Arts is currently holding its annual “Clay, Fiber, Paper, Glass, Metal, Wood” national exhibition. This exhibition is free to the public and features 18 ISU students, alumni and faculty members’ works. 

“This exhibit has been a tradition for 47 years,” said Nancy Thompson, lecturer in integrated studio arts and one of the featured artists in the exhibit, “It’s continued to grow and reach more and more people over the years.”

The exhibit began as a way for ISU students to preview their work to the community. However, it has grown to stretch from Ames to all of Iowa, the Midwest and beyond. While most of the artists are from Iowa and surrounding states, artists from beyond the Midwest have artwork on display as well.

Contestants were to submit photos of their artwork for selection in early December. They received the results 10 days later. Within the 10 days, the juror, Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, had the responsibility of dwindling the list down from nearly 400 to only 65 artworks. 

“It’s a very difficult task to take on,” Verbeek-Cowart said, professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, “I was overwhelmed by the amount of talent I had to choose from.”

The exhibit serves as an opportunity for artists to get their work out there and work on building a name for themselves. Madeline Baker, senior in graphic design, as well as Thompson and Verbeek-Cowart, explained how participating in these kind of events can inspire young artists. 

Baker said the event wasn’t just for artists with work on display.

“It’s vital to be there in person. Really, if you don’t have anything going on, you have nothing to lose going to see all the art on display at the Octagon,” Baker said. “The variety of artworks featured is really quite captivating.”

Getting involved with the exhibit is simple and accessible. The university sends emails to all the students and there are typically flyers up around campus about it when submission time approaches. 

“There are so many supportive people in this community that really hold this exhibit near and dear,” Verbeek-Cowart said. “It’s not only a tremendous tradition, but it’s also a wonderful and rare opportunity for artists to run into.”

The exhibit runs from now until April 4.