I was honored to judge the annual Blick Art Materials show at NIU this winter. It was my first time and an amazing experience. To go in and have to pick 25 pieces from over 70 was hard and then assigning awards was harder! What criteria to use when you judge a student art show? Technique? Originality? Emotive response? I tried to use all three. Balancing the pieces to make a good show was tough too- I gained even more respect for curators! Luckily Leyla Nora the student curator hung an amazing show. I was struck by how emotional many of these student’s works were. This school is not striving for polished perfection but rather really teaching the students how to push their concepts and emotions out into the viewer’s reality. Creating a reality that draws you in and makes you ask “Where?” “What?” “Why?” I was inspired and excited for these artists. Being a city girl I never accepted there were such raw, gritty, treasures like this fine art department out among the fields. Thanks for the love Jack Olsen Gallery!