Sixteen years ago, two Truman State students were tired of art selection processes that relied on a jury to determine what student art was good enough to be displayed at the University Art Gallery. So, they started their own art show in their apartment.
Since then, the show has bounced from houses to schools, and this year it will be at Pickler’s Famous. Regardless of the venue, Tom Thumb, a student led art show, continues to offer students and Kirksville community members a chance to display art without fear of rejection.
Truman alumnus Matt Johns has helped plan Tom Thumb for the past five years and submitted his art for display. Despite knowing all art is accepted, he said it is an honor.
“One of the best things about Tom Thumb is when you’re hanging out at the event and people come to talk to you about your art,” Johns said. “That reaction from your peers is something really awesome.”
Tom Thumb accepts all art forms including painting, performance and written pieces. Because of this wide range, Johns said he has seen some odd displays, including a toilet made of Oreos and a performance piece during which an artist taped a fish to his body and smashed eggs on himself.
Graduate student Allison Sissom is a Tom Thumb planning committee member. She said unusual displays like an artist shaving his head or encouraging viewers to throw food are what make Tom Thumb special.
“Stuff like that wouldn’t make it into our traditional gallery, and so this is a platform for them to display whatever art they’ve been working on,” she said.
Students who don’t submit art still can be involved. Tom Thumb can be a valuable experience because it is planned entirely by students and funded by donations.
Because it isn’t hosted in a formal art gallery and pieces aren’t selected by a jury or an art director, Sissom said the students who plan it get to experience art from a different point of view.
“Everything from advertising to planning to creating is dependent on the committee of five to 10 students,” Sissom said. “So we kind of get to do it all.”
For sophomore April Johnson, Tom Thumb offers a way to let Kirksville community members and non-art majors become involved in the art community.
By allowing all art, Johnson said the show encourages people to be creative and the display showcases talent not often seen. Johnson said this year’s theme, Kim Jong Ill’s sweet 16, is another example of how Tom Thumb is quirky and fun.
While the theme is only used for the advertisements, Johnson said the art, venue and performances will be different from what viewers would expect to see at a regular art show.
Filed Under: Features