Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Annual art competition at IU East celebrates its 30th anniversary

The 30th Whitewater Valley Annual Art Competition at The Gallery at IU East not only recognizes artists from across the Midwest, but this year it also celebrates a milestone anniversary.

"Going Green"

"Going Green" by Susanna Tanner, an entrant in the 30th Whitewater Valley Annual Art Competition at IU East.

Print-Quality Photo

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the show, which began in 1978 "somewhat on a whim," says Ed Thornburg, curator of The Gallery. Thornburg says then-IU East instructor Tom Thomas was in the presence of John Canady, who was a contributing art critic for the New York Times at the time. Together, they decided to construct a competition on the IU East campus with open judging. Since then, The Gallery has hosted guest judges that have included Thomas Armstrong (from the Whitney Museum), James Pilgrim (from MOMA), and other notables in the art world.

"The 'open judging' format allows and encourages entrants, and others in attendance, to interact with the juror," Thornburg said. "As the judging proceeds, and pieces are accepted or rejected, there are open lines of communication. Knowing why a piece of art is evaluated in a certain manner is enormously educational to all and even more so if the judge has widespread experience in the art world. The annual experience can be extremely eye-opening to the entrants, especially if they have never truly undergone such scrutiny."

This year, James Yood, an adjunct full professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the department of Art History, Theory and Criticism, juried the annual IU East Whitewater Valley Annual Art Competition. Yood is also the director of the New Arts Journalism program and a Chicago correspondent for Artforum.

"Over the past few years, we have built some bridges with area colleges and universities," Thornburg said. "It certainly showed in the quality of the work entered, and the pieces selected for the exhibit. I am extremely pleased with the show and have received many compliments. The juror, Mr. James Yood from the Chicago Art Institute, was impressed as well, and did a marvelous job with his duties here on the judging weekend."

The Gallery is one of the premier visual arts centers for Wayne and surrounding counties. However, until 2004 when the gallery space was created, exhibition space on this campus was limited to a large hallway, about 111 feet by 8-feet high. Four years ago, two adjoining classrooms in Whitewater Hall were converted to an enclosed gallery, roughly 40-feet square, with lighting and movable panel options. The Gallery features continually changing exhibits with nine shows a year. At The Gallery, patrons can:

  • See exhibitions by local, regional, national and international artists, as well as young artists from area schools
  • Attend lectures
  • Meet renowned artists
  • Purchase artwork

The top 10 recipients for this year's competition were announced during the artists' reception on Nov. 5, and each received a donated monetary award. About 160 donors, patrons, faculty members, students, artists and general art lovers attended the awards reception.

Each year, 300 to 400 pieces of art are entered for the competition. Previous entries have included works from high schools and universities, art organizations and centers or independent artists. This year's entries include drawings, paintings, mixed media, photography, printmaking, computer graphics, relief sculpture and relief.

"Having one's art efforts criticized can be painful and many of the Whitewater entrants undergo that for the first time here," Thornburg said. "Those who are open-minded, ask questions and learn from the situation are better for it. At the 30th judging in October, several artists' works were selected for the first time, even though they had entered for years. I am interested the betterment of art and the successes of artists, generally, but as an instructor I view the Whitewater Competition as a fantastic and unique annual educational opportunity."

The competition is open to all artists, age 17 and older, who live within a 300-mile radius of Richmond, Ind. The 2008 winners can be viewed at:

The exhibit continues in The Gallery in Whitewater Hall now until Dec. 12 at IU East. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends by appointment. All exhibits are free and open to the public. For more information on the show, call Thornburg at 765-973-8605 or 800-959-3278 ext. 605.