UT student art is on display in Hodges Library as part of the Student Art in the Library exhibition.
    
Artwork in the exhibit was selected by a committee of library staff from many submissions, each the work of a UT student.
   
 The first- and second-place winners both received cash prizes. The second-place winner, Stacey Austin-Heil, is currently a junior seeking her B.F.A. in graphic design. Her painting called “The Last Supper Club” is a spoof piece on Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
    
“Art is important in my life for a couple of reasons,” Austin-Heil said. “I’ve been able to make a living painting faux finishes and murals, I’ve become involved in the Maryville local art scene and I’ve participated in several Knoxville shows which have allowed me to meet people with similar interests and to grow as an artist. Art has driven my creativity and allowed for an outlet of that creative need.”
    
Art was a part of Austin-Heil’s life even at a young age.
    
“My grandmother was an artist and she used to sell her paintings along the Santa Barbara Beach in California,” Austin-Heil said. “After her passing, I inherited some of her paintings, as well as some of her art supplies. This really helped me pursue my interest in art. I’ve always drawn and painted since I was a child.”
   
 The first-place winner, Courtney Kovacs, became interested in art during college. Kovacs is pursuing her master’s degree in the advertising program at UT, and plans to graduate with an M.S. in communications in May. Kovac received her B.A. in art while minoring in English and journalism at Lyon College in Batesville, Ark.
   
 “Art wasn’t always important to me,” Kovacs said. “I enjoyed looking at it, but I was pretty sure it was something I could never do. This changed when I decided to take a drawing class as an elective in college, and I ended up truly enjoying the process as well as the results. I’ve never had a great deal of technical skill, but I appreciate and admire the skill and creativity I see around me every day.”
    
Kovacs’ piece “Connections” is inspired by the connection between the artist and the audience of the artwork.
    
“At the time that I created it I was feeling a lot of frustration with life, and with my choice to be an art major; I was making things but often they didn’t really mean anything to me,” Kovacs said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted, or where my passion was. At some point I reached the realization that the only thing that was important, that really mattered, was other people. The reason for creating art was to have someone else experience it, to create a bond between the artist and the audience through shared meaning.”
    
Both winners’ artwork, as well as pieces by several other students, will be on display in Hodges Library Room 135 through the rest of the semester.
    
“I think students that check out the art competition will see that it is varied in the type of art presented and that anyone can enter,” Austin-Heil said.
    
Austin-Heil also encourages others to participate in the show, even if they have never tried making art before.
   
 “I don’t think you have to be an artist to enter this show,” Austin-Heil said. “You just have to do it.”