ST GEORGE – From 9 a.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday, students and local artists gathered in the hallways and classrooms of the North Plaza at Dixie State University to participate in an art marathon. Participants worked continuously on individual art projects, putting brush to paint or clay to wheel for the duration of 18 hours. At 3 a.m., paintbrushes were ditched, canvases pulled down from easels, and a few sleep deprived artists walked out into the darkness of early morning.
Some of the participants used the event to work on art projects that they would work on anyway. Pam Bird sat at a table in the main lobby brushing a light flesh tone atop a burgundy texture for one of her reliefs. The sculpted image is Durga from India, Bird said, a Hindu goddess, who is said to have saved the people from a terrible demon who was trying to destroy the world.
“I always say it’s women who have been holding the world together for centuries,” Bird said.
Bird has been an artist for a long time and was always drawn to mythology and the art of the ancient cultures, especially the female figures or goddesses.
“I realized I was searching for myself and what it means to be a positive role model,” Bird said. “Goddesses are the mothers and the nurturers.”
DSU art professor McGarren Flack brought the idea of the Art Marathon to DSU from graduate school. Forcing yourself to work on artistic undertakings for a prolonged period of time gives students a feeling for pushing to meet deadlines, Flack said, even outside of a professional art career.
After so many hours of focusing on a painting combined with a lack of sleep, your brain starts to go blank, the professor said, and then you reach the drunken stage.
“Everyone is hammered by 1 o’clock,” Flack said, “people start groaning and getting irritable.”
Artists experience a series of second winds throughout the 18 hours, Flack said, but it’s around 3 a.m. where breakthroughs occur – it’s also the breaking point for most people. Last year, during the 24-hour marathon, only two people stayed past 3 a.m.
“One of (those who stayed past 3 a.m. last year), Margerie, ended up painting over the same canvas four times,” Flack said, “but then ended up winning first place in the student show.
“Painting becomes more reactive, more intuitive at that point. You let go of control and the edge of refinement. In the end, you may discover something new.”
For some the Art Marathon is simply a great motivator toward finalizing projects for the upcoming student show or senior exhibition.
“I’m just here to finish my projects,” DSU student Peter Burnett said with a laugh. He is working on his senior exhibition.
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