Arts & Culture

Student-curated exhibit highlights mental health, OU artists’ “safe spaces”

The third installment of the student-curated exhibition “Oglethorpe’s Portfolio: Art by Students” opened recently in the Conant Performing Arts Center. Museum student interns Nicole Buruse ’23 and Penelope Bertrand ’26 co-curated this year’s program titled “Safe Space.”

The exhibition is meant to allow artists to express their safe space and emphasizes the importance of mental health and caring for yourself. The art series features various works in different artistic styles and mediums from six students: 

Jaidyn Matthew Carter's "And after that?" Digital photo print of two women, one woman is standing and down the other woman's hair

“And after that?,” a photo by Jaidyn Matthew Carter featured in the exhibition

Kristana Quinnan ’23
Madeline Turner ’23
Lia Kusky ’26
Jaidyn Matthew Carter ’26
Heidi Ullman ’26
Michael Yelton ’24

“From my personal interpretation, a safe space is supposed to represent a place where there is no judgment, hexing or wrong-doing,” says Carter about the exhibition and his art. 

The exhibition comes just in time to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. Penelope Bertrand created the theme for this installment to highlight being comfortable talking about one’s general well-being and encourage students to open up and advocate for more.

“The best part of working at OUMA, helping create events, and curating student exhibits would be the people I have met from these experiences,” said Bertrand. “Through the student art show and trying to spread the word about it by simply bugging my classmates, I found more friends and peers with similar interests. Finding these people was the best part of my work this year at OU.”

"doors @ 12" by Michael Yelton. Bargoers watch a drag queen perform, additional image is a cross and two hands reach towards each other. Art reads "Sometimes I cry tears of queer joy at Saint Louisa's Church gay bar saturdays at Midnight I'll be there 254 West Clayton St, Athens GA 30601"

“doors @ 12” by Michael Yelton is featured in the exhibition

An art history major and graduating senior, Nicole Buruse has helped curate several “Oglethorpe’s Portfolio: Art by Students” during their time at Oglethorpe. They wanted to start the art series to recognize student artists and give them professional credit for their work. 

“It has been an amazing couple of years of curating these exhibits and giving students a platform; I truly hope this will continue for years to come,” said Buruse. “I’m leaving this gallery with my beloved colleague, Penelope Bertrand, and I trust that she will continue to represent the student body’s artwork in incredible ways.”

The exhibition will be on view in the Conant Gallery through September 30, 2023. 

Photo at top: “Food & Family” by Madeline Turner. Art features various foods such as vegetables, gumbo, flounder and descriptions of what the foods means to her.


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