Fine Arts students’ work featured in Japan

The Miyazaki Prefectural Art Museum in Miyazaki City, Japan, currently holds more than 37 pieces of art work on display created and produced by 14 Lamar University art students. The Lamar University Digital Art Exhibition 2022 curated by Christopher Troutman, associate professor of art in the Lamar University Department of Art & Design, features Troutman's large mixed media of works on paper from 2020 and 2021 with some digital artwork included.

professor christopher troutman
Professor Christopher Troutman
“My wife is from Miyakonojo, Japan, so we go back every summer,” Troutman said. “People know me in Miyazaki and Kagoshima Prefectures because I enter many shows there each year, so I thought it would be a new challenge to do a large exhibition at their museums.”

In 2017, Troutman was awarded the prestigious LU Distinguished Faculty Creative Activity Fellowship, a program intended to identify, recognize, reward and support faculty who have distinguished themselves over their research and creative activity careers. Selected fellows receive a $10,000 annual stiped for a three-year period and up to $5,000 during their fellowship term for expenditures associated with research and creative activities.
“The Fellowship was to last from 2017 to 2020 and I was supposed to learn digital drawing hardware and software and then include that into the drawing curriculum,” he said. “Students and I started experimenting and, in the beginning, they showed me all of the art tricks they already knew and new ones that they had looked up.”
From pencils and charcoal to live models and acrylic paint, Troutman said he used his experience with
traditional drawing to see how that connected to digital drawing and tabbed his students with doing the same. The initial goal of planning the exhibitions, the art professor said, was to motivate students to create quality artwork while developing digital drawing curriculum in the Department of Art & Design. 

“Many of them want to go into illustration for careers, which relies on digital drawing and painting, so I want my new abilities in digital art to carry over into our classes and help students push their skills so that they can achieve their own career goals,” he said.  

What started out as an experiment quickly turned into an international research opportunity for Troutman’s students. In 2019, he showed his students’ art pieces along with his own digital mixed media artwork at the Miyakonojo City Art Museum and the Kagoshima City Art Museum. The last location for the exhibition was the Miyazaki Prefectural Art Museum in the summer 2020, but the show was quickly postponed due to the pandemic.
Now, two years later, Troutman said this exhibition will wrap up the Distinguished Faculty Creative Activity Fellowship that concluded in 2020 and focused on incorporating digital drawing methods into the Department of Art & Design’s drawing curriculum. While some of the art students have since graduated, the art professor added that the exhibition still serves as a time capsule of their artwork.
“It feels great. The museum director is also happy to see the work up. Students are happy as well –– students that had been waiting two years after graduating are happy to know their work is filling the gallery there. It looks really great.”

While the exhibition in the Miyazaki Prefectural Art Museum is only on display from July 6-10, Troutman said he plans to host an additional art exhibition here in Beaumont.

“In November, selections from this and the past exhibitions will be shown at the Art Studios Inc., in downtown Beaumont. I’ll show large mixed media works with some digital updates I’ve made to old artwork.”