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Art exhibit at Lake Superior College is students' final exam

Art students at Lake Superior College take their final exams in public. That doesn't mean they sit down at a desk and take a written exam while people mill around the room. What they do is probably more difficult for some and an honor for many --...

Art students at Lake Superior College take their final exams in public.
That doesn't mean they sit down at a desk and take a written exam while people mill around the room. What they do is probably more difficult for some and an honor for many -- they have a public art exhibit.
Called, not surprisingly, "The Final Exam Student Art Show," the exhibit features hundreds of paintings and drawings, graphic designs, hand and wheel-thrown pots and sculpture created by the art students taking art classes at LSC this semester.
"There will be about 300 artists in the show," said Louise Eilert, who teaches painting and drawing at LSC. And the show is a test, she said. Not only do students have to create the work, they have to prepare it so that it is ready to exhibit. This means matting it and mounting it, if necessary, as well as generating titles and labels for the artwork.
In the pottery studio, students are also readying their work, said Dorian Beaulieu, LSC ceramics instructor. They'll have a lot of pots to choose from. "We've probably made 5,000 pieces this semester," he said.
These will be whittled down for the exhibit, he said. He estimates that from 200 to 400 pieces will be shown. They will include hand-built as well as wheel-thrown work in everything from earthenware to stoneware. Firing methods also vary, he said. Many students have experimented with the wood-fired kiln that was built earlier this year, and that unique look will be one of many featured in the exhibit.
The students can earn "points" for their final grade by helping with the art exhibit, Eilert said. That means coordinating publicity, hanging the show and organizing the opening reception, acting as docents for the week-long run. and disassembling the show and returning work to the art rooms. The show concludes at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15.
Bill Alexander, a 57-year-old retired teamster who is just completing his first semester studying painting at the college, is looking forward to his first art exhibit.
"The artwork is by the whole art department," he said. "It gives folks a feel of what goes on at our school."
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In his case, it's been almost a dream come true, he said. For years, he has had a little voice inside him telling him he should be an artist. "I finally listened to it," he said. "I plan on going at least three more semesters and see how far I can take it."
Alexander said when he was at East High School almost 40 years ago his art instructor there, Mel Kumsha, told him that he should consider art as a career. But he never really found the time to pursue it until this year.
"It just came to a point where I asked myself, 'Why don't I do something I want to do, rather than do something I don't want to do?' So I decided to answer that small voice."
In this case, it was exploring watercolors. He will have two or three watercolors in the exhibit as well as some pottery. Many students have taken more than one art class this year, he said. "It's been excellent," he said.

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