For five Ball State students, their art assignments did not just receive a grade. Their work earned them a spot in the Indianapolis Art Center College Invitational, which is a part of the Spring Exhibition Series. 

Alex Mikev, Sarah Anderson, William James Lupkin, Teddy Lepley and Seul Yi represent Ball State among the 24 artists featured in the series that will be on display until June 13. 

Each of the artists dedicated no less than eight hours every day for weeks to brainstorm, plan, create and perfect their masterpieces. 

The students said they were excited to be featured in the exhibition because of its prestige and wide, diverse audience that travels to see the art. 

Alex Mikev

After taking something he already knew how to do and adding a restraint element to the creation of his piece, Alex Mikev,  a senior intermedia art major, created “Heavy Marks,” one of his two pieces in the College Invitational. 

The work is a video of him drawing a still life of a plant, but rather than using a pencil or pen, he uses a 35-pound rock. 

Mikev’s inspiration for the piece stemmed from exploring work by Matthew Barney, an artist who explores restraints while creating art, such as tethering his hands together or drawing with extremely large sticks. 

Eric Pritchett, DN

“I’m interested in investigating a spectrum of futility to utility in the work process,” Mikev said. “This piece is about me exploring the idea of work itself and how easy or hard it is to do work, like setting up challenges for myself and seeing if I’m able to overcome those challenges with really weird obstacles because that’s how it feels to be an artist anyway.” 

“Work Tie” is Mikev’s second piece, and features a photograph of himself in professional work attire suspended in mid-air with his tie breaking the edge of the image. The image he created took between 15 and 29 hours to create. 

With this piece, he said he aims to emphasize the sense of gravity on the body, as well as exploring other unusual forces.

Mikev hopes his work will resonate with viewers because his pieces center around themes people can relate to. 

“Work deals with a lot of internal turmoil,” Mikev said. “[My art pieces] address that fact that life is hard and ridiculous and funny. You can laugh and feel uncomfy, but you bite the bullet and keep going.” 

Sarah Anderson

In her piece, “Land and Sea,” Sarah Anderson, a junior sculpture fine arts major, uses a common household utensil to demonstrate the power of the ocean. 

Her work features two spoons cast out of bronze — one designed to look like wood, representing how land is sturdy and strong, and the other to look as if it is corroded in browns and blues covered with barnacles to represent the ocean.

The contrast of the two spoons is meant to reveal the ocean’s strength and how it can manipulate and distort even the strongest of materials with its chemicals and natural processes, Anderson said. 

Sara Anderson sits outside of the Art and Journalism building with the start of her coral reef sculpture. Eric Pritchett, DN

Creating the spoons took Anderson about a month. She started with rubber molds, created wax figures, and finally casted the wax to make the bronze structures. 

Anderson said she was inspired to create the piece because she has always had a love for the environment and has been an advocate against pollution and waste, especially in the ocean. 

“I want [my art piece] to show that this does happen, this is a naturally occurring thing,” Anderson said. “It’s really cool that the ocean makes really cool art all by itself — without us having to do anything — but also, if we don’t take care of our oceans, if we don’t prevent pollution and excess waste, we’re not going to have this beautiful, natural, occurring art.” 

Along with having her art displayed in the exhibit, Anderson received a summer job at the Indianapolis Art Center as a metal instructor for the children’s art camp. 

Seul Yi

Through objects from her Korean background, Seul Yi, a graduate student studying fine arts aims to discuss universal gender issues in her piece, “Gender Molding.”

Her work features two traditional fabric belts that children wear on their first birthday, with multiple brass symbols and pouches sewed onto them. 

The first belt is red and smaller in length to symbolize the perceived weakness of girls in society. There are also pearl earrings, a miniature sewing machine, and flowery symbols attached to the belt. 

In contrast, the second belt is blue and resembles a royal courtsman belt with miniature baseball bats and tools to indicate a man and his power.

Seul Yi, Photo Provided

“I want to emphasize how gender roles are placed onto us by society from the moment we come into this [world],” Yi said. 

For the project, Yi conducted weeks of research to find the perfect images that would clearly communicate gender stereotypes.

Currently, Yi is working on another set of belts that will be more “Americanized” because she found that some non-Korean viewers did not understand all of the cultural aspects. 

In her new version, the man’s belt will be a leather toolbelt and the woman’s will be an apron. 

“Art is a way that I can communicate with a larger amount of people and an easier way of communicating,” Yi said. “Because I do work with a lot of Korean imagery, I think it’s also great that I can use my art to share the culture or at least broaden someone’s knowledge. Even if I could get one person to research Korea better, other than what they hear from the news or from other people, my goal has been reached.” 

Teddy Lepley III

Teddy Lepley III’s piece, “Relations and Revelations,” is a large accordion book of etchings and letterpress with hand-marbled paper. 

The etchings are made from quick figure drawings of Lepley’s friends, family and live models. The letterpress, he said, is meant to reveal ideas about relationships and how people are easily changed by one another. 

Together, Lepley said the book is like a “portable gallery.”

Junior Teddy Lepley is a Printmaking major at Ball State University, using his free time on Sunday to catchup on his artwork in the studio on February 25. Carlee Ellison, Madi Grosh, Eric Pritchett, Hannah Perry, DN

To create the book, Lepley took drawings and made them into etchings, a printmaking process that uses acid to etch drawn lines into a metal plate. He also etched fabric textures onto the plates to make unique surfaces throughout his work.

After etching was complete, he printed them on sheets of special paper and folded them to create the inside of the accordion book. 

He also hand-marbled paper with colored ink and shaving cream, and then glued all the pieces together. 

Lepley spent nearly half a semester working on the etchings and several weeks during breaks to finish the piece.

Currently, his art is being showcased in four separate shows. “Relations and Revelations” has also won three “Best in Show” awards of the five competitive exhibitions it has been in. 

William James Lupkin

While William James Lupkin was unavailable for comment, his work was also selected to be featured in the gallery. 

Contact Melissa Kraman with comments at mmkraman@bsu.edu or on Twitter @missy_kraman