Showcase in point

The 2021 Visual Art & Design Showcase offers a world-class online viewing experience.

Collage of student design work

The Visual Art & Design Showcase is entirely online for 2021.

March 16, 2021

The 2021 Visual Art & Design Showcase (VADS) opens Wednesday, March 17, and is entirely online this year, a fate common for many traditionally in-person events during the pandemic. Although art enthusiasts know there is no substitute for the real thing, online galleries do have their advantages.

“High-def, micro-details can often illuminate aspects of artwork even better than in-person viewing. Ditto for multiple viewpoints for particular types of art,” said Benton Kidd, curator of ancient art at the MU Museum of Art and Archaeology and VADS committee member. “Probably most importantly, an online exhibition is open to the world, so the exposure is ‘virtually’ unlimited.”

VADS is typically housed in Jesse Hall’s rotunda, providing a centrally located gallery space for student artists and designers to display work in photojournalism, graphic design, architectural drawing, theater set design, painting, sculpting, textile and apparel design, mixed media and digital storytelling. Now in its sixth year, the showcase teamed up with MU Libraries to host the event on Omeka, a virtual platform designed for art galleries and museums.

The work is evaluated by a trio of guest jurors from the professional art world who select eight projects for monetary awards. The Grand Prize, selected by Sager Braudis Gallery, includes a $3,600 award and space for their work to be displayed in the gallery at a future date.

“It’s important to read the artist statement and see how it aligns with what I’m viewing,” says Katherine Pill, curator of contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, and VADS guest juror. “When possible, you want to get an in-the-round feel and multiple viewpoints of the art. But it’s also good to hear directly from the artist, and I know that is not going to change with this online format.”

The VADS dashboard provides space for up to four digital files — still photos or video content — in addition to written and video statements from the artist. The zoom feature allows for detailed viewing of the work, and there is a function for submitting questions and comments for the artist.

The winning VADS projects will be displayed in person April 19–24, 2021, at the Columbia Art League, and the films will be featured April 19–23 at Ragtag Cinema, both in downtown Columbia. Ragtag Cinema and Columbia Art League will also select projects for community sponsor awards.

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