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Student Art Sale Soars to New Heights; Largest Sale To Date

The 2024 Student Art Sale, photo credit: Kyle Lewis

This story was written by Mallory Link, 3rd year, History Major and first appeared on the Arts NC State website. See the original story

Walking into Talley Student Ballrooms on April 12 meant entering into a world of paintings, ceramics, crocheted goods and more. The 2024 Student Art Sale took NC State by storm, and produced the highest earnings in its nine-year history. 

This year marked the first time the sale was located in the Talley Student Union ballrooms after it had outgrown its previous home in the Talley third floor atrium.

The 2024 Student Art Sale featured work from over 75 artists across 11 colleges at NC State, granting student artists of all disciplines an opportunity to be represented and share their art. The sale took place from 3-6:30 p.m. in person, and moved online at 7 p.m., allowing artists to share their work to a greater audience. There is still art available for purchase in the online sale.

This year’s sale generated $17,000 in total sales to over 580 patrons made up of students, faculty, staff and members of the public. That is the most money earned by student artists in the sale’s history and speaks to its continual growth year after year.

The art sale began in 2001 as a private acquisition where a committee of students, staff and local artists reviewed and selected artworks to purchase for NC State’s collection and display in Talley Student Union and various locations across campus. However, when Amy Sawyers-Williams, Arts NC State’s manager of outreach and engagement, took the helm in 2014, she envisioned opening the art sale to the public. 

Beginning the next year in 2015, the art sale was officially opened to the public to allow the student artists to showcase and sell their art to a broader audience. The sale raised $3,000 in the first year and grew to $13,000 by 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the art sale moved online during 2020-2022. 

Returning in-person in 2023, the sale evolved to have both an in-person sale and an online virtual sale that opened afterward. The hybrid format allows student artists to interact directly with buyers and foster an online presence to continue their relationships with buyers beyond the in-person sale. 

In addition to selling their art, student artists have the opportunity to win awards for their work. The Visual Artist Award, started by donor Roxanne Hicklin in 2017, has winners in three categories – 2D art, 3D art, and photography or computer-generated art. The winners are selected by a respected judge in the art world and each receives a $500 cash prize, along with the purchase of their winning piece for the Arts NC State permanent student art collection.

The 2024 Visual Artist Winners are Sean Evans, a second year majoring in graphic and experience design, with the piece “Platinum” for the 2D category, Erin Emott, a graduate student in plant biology, with the piece “Skelly” for the 3D category and Jack E. McKissock, a first year in media arts and technology, with the piece “Sahbabii” for the digital category. The winners were selected by this year’s judge, Jean Gray Mohs, a North Carolina native and artist who blends her journey through mothering, chronic illness, and disability to create abstract works.

“Platinum” by Sean Evans
“Platinum” by Sean Evans
“Skelly” by Erin Emott
“Skelly” by Erin Emott
“Sahbabii” by Jack E. McKissock.
“Sahbabii” by Jack E. McKissock

From top to bottom, left to right: “Platinum” by Sean Evans, “Skelly” by Erin Emott, and “Sahbabii” by Jack E. McKissock.

The Student Art Sale at NC State boasts an illustrious history, and many universities look to replicate the success and format of the sale, including the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Penn State, who are both working with Amy Sawyers-Williams to learn more about creating a sale and collection system like this. What makes NC State’s art sale so unique is that it is open to all majors, not just art concentrations. This allows for students who enjoy creating art as a hobby to share their work and allows them to learn entrepreneurship, interpersonal, communication, self confidence and branding skills, even if they are pursuing an engineering or history degree. 

In addition, the student artists receive 100% of the proceeds from their sales, creating a streamlined process that rewards student artists for their hard work and creativity. Furthermore, NC State purchases student art for its own collection, along with fostering an environment where student artists can sell their work to the public. This allows for the student artists to see that their work is being appreciated by both their university and the public. 

The 2025 Student Art Sale has been announced for April 18, 2025, marking the 10th anniversary of the art sale opening to the public, and will be held in the Talley Ballrooms with an additional ballroom to accommodate more student artists.

This post was originally published in College of Design Blog.