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Art students selected to showcase in exclusive competition
Drawing and painting senior Carl Morris is soft-spoken and cerebral. He eschews paintbrushes in favor of a bowl, carefully pouring paint directly on sheets of glass. The results are colorful, flowing layers of abstract forms with numerous intricacies that capture a real sense of wonder.
Morris was one of 10 students from UNT chosen to compete in the Rising Eyes of Texas exhibition in Rockport, Texas, beginning March 16. Rising Eyes is an annual statewide competition to showcase emerging art students. The first place winner receives a cash prize of $500.
From 105 total submissions, 40 students were chosen from 16 different universities. UNT has 10 students showcasing while other schools have about one to three.
“I submitted my work not expecting it to be picked,” Morris said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”
The Rockport Center for the Arts was founded in the mid-19th century and has evolved to be a major promoter of regional, national and international art. Selection for the show is exclusive and in Morris’s case, the rules were bent slightly to allow his participation. The exhibition has a “no glass policy” but realized glass was an integral element of Morris’s work, and the judges made an exception.
“I want to combine a variety of pictorial languages in my paintings,” Morris said.
His paintings are abstract and non-representational like famous artist Jackson Pollock but Morris’s work doesn’t simply imitate. Instead he layers the paint and doesn’t rely on splatters and drizzles.
Rockport center’s Visual Arts Director and Curator John Aasp said this brand of distinct execution is the primary artistic virtue the competition celebrates.
“We’re looking for artists that are finding their own voice, who are ceasing to emulate and beginning to innovate,” Aasp said.
Being recognized in such a way can be an enormous boon in an artist’s early career. Morris mentioned he is currently seeking acceptance into a graduate art program and feels the cash prize would pale in comparison to the value of listing this award in an application or resume.
“This is the best art school in the area,” Morris said. “It proves we’re up to something here.”
Art Studio Department chair Annette Lawrence said she is impressed with the number of students participating.
“When students are rewarded by being juried into shows like the Rising Eyes of Texas, CVAD and UNT shine a little brighter,” Lawrence said.
The exhibition runs March 16 through April 6.