Student uses Big Creek as inspiration, art exhibit

Herrick Smith- ceramics- jar

07/13/16 sds
HAYS, Kan. -- When looking at the muddy water flowing through Big Creek, most people wouldn't think it's an ideal place to set up a pottery exhibit. However, Fort Hays State University's Herrick Smith decided to do just that when he waded out to install a giant vase.

Smith, a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics, is one of 14 graduate and undergraduate students taking Installation and Exhibit Planning, taught by Linda Ganstrom, professor of art and design. The class focuses on how space, lighting and environment influence the way people interact with exhibits.

Smith grew up in St. Augustine, Fla., and moved to Hays after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of North Florida, Jackson. He decided to install his work in Big Creek, he said, because "it just made sense."

"I grew up near the ocean, so the water is definitely something I miss," said Smith. "By placing the vase in the creek, I was able to draw people's attention to something that I enjoy and make them look at it in a different way."

Smith installed the vase near the bridge leading up to Gross Memorial Coliseum by placing cinderblocks in the middle of the creek and securing the vase to them.

The installation was part of the class's first project: installing a piece of artwork on campus. In addition to Big Creek, pieces were installed in Rarick Hall, on Jellison Bridge and in trees in the Quad.

"The class takes art out of the gallery and into the world," said Ganstrom.

Students traveled to Castle Rock to do site-specific installations and will end the summer with the "Install and Exhibit Workshop" exhibition, which will showcase students' work throughout the class. A reception for the exhibition is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, in the Moss-Thorns Gallery of Art in Rarick Hall.

"The class has been amazing so far," said Smith. "It's four weeks devoted entirely to making art.

"I have to do a solo exhibition at the end of my degree, so this class helps prepare me for that," he said.

To view more of Smith's work, visit

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