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Former fashion designer and student exhibits new work at gallery
Studio art graduate student Joy Ude will present an exhibition of her artwork at the 53rd annual Voertman Competition. The free exhibition will run from Tuesday to Friday with a reception on Thursday. Guests will have the chance to meet Ude and other graduate students participating in the exhibit.
“The competition is a time-honored celebration of artistic achievement and promise,” Director of Galleries Tracee Robertson said.
The Voertman Competition is a juried exhibition open to College of Visual Arts and Design students in all disciplines and levels, and was started in 1960 by Mr. Paul Voertman, founder of Voertman’s store.
Ude’s work will be featured in the upstairs portion of UNT’s Cora Stafford Gallery. She earned her bachelor’s at UNT and returned to campus in 2010 to start graduate school in the design program. Going back to school meant leaving behind the world of fashion.
“At some point I realized I just wasn’t in love with my job anymore,” Ude said. “It was just me altering previous designs. At that point there just was no reason to not come back for grad school.”
Ude’s first major job was as a design assistant at JC Penny. She eventually moved to New York where she interned for Betsey Johnson, worked two retail jobs, and at one point, collaborated on rapper 50 Cent’s G-Unit line. Afterward she was offered a spot at Levi’s in California.
“We’re happy that she and so many other students have had success, ” said Amie Adelman, studio fibers professor who helped Ude in school.
Her current body of studio work examines various aspects of black culture as a subset of American culture through the use of textiles and prints.
Ude said her intentions are not to sensationalize the racial aspect of her art but are focused on research.
“I love antique posters and billboards, however most of the cartoons were offensive,” Ude said. “I want to explore how people who had to confront these signs daily dealt with them, and in doing so, draw parallels to today’s society.”
Her exhibit will feature two series of her caricatures: Aunt Jemima and Young Gully. These confront the self-identity, self-esteem and stereotypical difficulties African-Americans face.
Part of what makes this exhibit unique is the way it the work is displayed – the entire room is set up like a child’s playroom.
“I wanted to represent how we are exposed to preconceptions at such a young age and make the show interactive,” Ude said. “We all come into contact with these things everyday and that is not a passive experience.”