Artists will use their creativity in demanding circumstances to create life drawings during the third annual Binghamton University art department 24-hour Drawing Marathon.
Ten to 12 participants were chosen to participate in the event based on a portfolio that consisted of 10 samples of their best figure drawings. The deadline to submit the portfolios was March 1, and anyone from the community or University over the age of 18 was invited to submit their work.
A clothed model will be the subject of the drawing marathon. Each participant will be provided with basic charcoal drawing materials, a 6-by-4-foot paper and an easel. The participants’ drawings will be on display until Thursday, March 31 in the University Art Museum.
Over the course of the competition there will be 15-minute breaks after every three hours for both the model and participants.
Diane Butler, director of the BU Art Museum, became part of the three-person judging committee a few years ago, which also includes Blazo Kovacevic, assistant professor of art and design, and Rick Pirozzolo, executive director and curator of the Arnot Art Museum located in Elmira.
Unlike other art competitions, the 24-hour Drawing Marathon is open to viewing by the public and allows the audience to feel like “flies on the wall” while experiencing the BU Art Museum being turned into an artist’s studio, according to Butler.
“The drawing marathon is the only contest that we are involved with and this institution is focused on the public, and it has a definite beginning and end in a short period of time,” Butler said. “Most artists don’t draw with people looking over their shoulder, and most viewers don’t get to see an artwork in its creation.”
Two cash prizes will be awarded to winners of the competition. The jury prize is $500 and will be awarded to the artist whose artwork impresses the judges the most, and the people’s prize of $250 will be awarded to the artist who gets the most amount of positive comments from visitors and comments on the BU Art Museum’s Facebook page.
“It is so subjective when it comes to judging each participant’s artwork,” Butler said. “You would never want an artist to draw to the taste of the judges.”
Kovacevic runs the majority of the marathon, including choosing the participants, while the BU Art Museum provides the space and resources for it.
“Kovacevic approached me about this marathon, it was his brainchild and he puts on the real show,” she said. “We’re really happy to host it because the interaction of art that’s being created and art that has long been in our museum have wonderful dialogue and nice synergy.”
Butler said that part of the event’s appeal is in the high-pressure nature of the competition, as artists are asked to perform out of their comfort zones while also being critiqued by passersby and judges. However, she said, seeing the creativity and problem-solving skills artists use make the event even more enjoyable.
“It’s an interesting process, what happens with drawing,” she said. “It has to be finished enough but not be overworked, and you have to know when to pull back. Sometimes I have seen a student spend 18 hours on a square foot when you have to fill a whole sheet of paper, it is intriguing to see how each person approaches the task differently.”
Rebecca Ho, winner of the 2016 Drawing Marathon and a senior majoring in business administration, said that the Drawing Marathon was both rewarding and difficult.
“This is a truly incredible competition and was one of my most memorable experiences as a student,” Ho wrote in an email. “This competition tested my limits. I remember around 4 o’clock in the morning, I was feeling anxious, exhausted and frustrated; my drawing just was not coming out right.”
Of course, this competition is no easy feat — Ho said it takes a lot out of its participants, both mentally and physically. But, in the end, she said the excitement of completing her piece was an unparalleled experience.
“It was during this state of disarray that I decided to wipe away half of my drawing,” Ho wrote. “I took a large cloth, a deep breath, and just erased it. For anyone that has ever participated in competitive sports, there is this point you can reach when running long distance, where you get into this groove and you feel as if you could keep running forever. After I erased half of my piece and started drawing again, I felt an artist’s equivalent to ‘runner’s high.’”
The 24-hour Drawing Marathon will be held in the main gallery of the BU Art Museum from Friday, March 23 at 10 a.m. to Saturday, March 24 at 10 a.m.