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Art students sacrifice their work for money, art and fame


     On the grassy area outside Jenkins a large crowd of stu­dents and faculty gather. Sounds of screaming and power tools, against the background of various rock tunes, disturb the peacefulness that would regularly come with a Wednesday afternoon. Murder is occurring,

     This is the annual TJC Art Club Thunderdome, a contest where students submit their original art pieces and the art that does not win is destroyed.

     “You enter the Thunderdome by showing up before the event and just entering your piece and we assign all the pieces a number and then in a random drawing we pull out two num­bers and those pieces go head to head.”

     The prize for winning the Thunderdome is $100, an art piece from one of the art professors, an exhibition in Vaughn Library and not getting their art destroyed. Art major Megan Bryant won the 2011 Thunderdome.

     “We select a juror panel from three members of the audi­ence that’s gathered around just randomly and then they pick which one they feel has the most dynamic visual interest and they can be as subjective in their decision as they want to,” White said. “The one piece that advances to the next round stays alive, the other piece is destroyed by the Annihilators.”

     The Annihilators are select students, clad in wrestling masks, who get to destroy the art.

     “It’s fun to watch others people artwork being destroyed and them freaking out,” art major Jennifer Motes said. “It’s not so much when you’re freaking out about your own art work getting destroyed. It’s a good thing to do at the end of the year, to get rid of some frustration and stress.”

     The Annihilators use various tools to destroy the art piec­es in an entertaining way to the audience.

     “It was just part of the conversation that we originally had,” White said. “It would be interesting to have just kind of some entertainment value to it, some showmanship of having someone come out and destroy these in kind of creative ways. So we have blowtorches and saws and hammers and all kinds of stuff.”

     The idea of the Thunderdome came up between conversa­tion between White and fellow art professor Paul Jones.

     “The Thunderdome started as a conversation over lunch between myself and professor Paul Jones trying to come with a way to add more excitement and an adrenaline rush to vi­sual art,” White said. “So in an effort to have a more vibrant student life, what if art were a competition and what if there was something on the line and artists had invested something where they had something to lose.”

     The inspiration of the Thunderdome was not only enter­tainment, but to teach aspiring artists.

     “The inspiration behind Thunderdome is for artists to make the best possible art work they can, to make a piece that’s good enough that the audience wouldn’t dare destroy it because it’s so good and I encourage my students as strongly as I can to do that.”

     The destruction of the art also teaches a lesson.

     “Another aspect of the inspiration on Thunderdome be­sides making the best art piece that you can make is to also, allow yourself as the creator of an artwork, be willing to let it go,” White said. “To not get so emotionally tied to your project after you’ve out your blood, sweat and tears into something that you’re not willing to part with it.”

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