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UT Martin art student creates and celebrates bright smiles

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Spending time with a friend can brighten any person's day.

Bailey Radnitzer saw more in her friends' smiling faces. She saw works of art.

Radnitzer is a senior studio art major at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and her senior art exhibit, "Happy H(you)man," opened Tuesday, March 16 at 6:00 p.m.

Radnitzer meeting with gallery guests on Tuesday, March 16. / WUTM News

For her final show in college, she displayed a handful of color pencil portraits of people dear to her heart. The faces are surrounded by colorful flowers, but her exhibit didn't stop at the eye.

Supplemental material at Radnitzer's gallery opening on Tuesday. / WUTM News

Guests were asked to bring headphones to experience an audio component, and she crafted felt flowers just like the ones featured in her portraits. Each portrait had a corresponding QR code, which would lead the viewer to the subject's favorite song.

Radnitzer said Tuesday's opening was everything she wanted it to be.

"It was kinda rough, but it was also exhilarating at the same time. It was really rewarding seeing so many people that I love and care about coming to see my work. Made me a little emotional. But I'm really glad that I got it all done in time, and it's exactly what I wanted it to be," she said.

When campus shut down in March 2020, art exhibitions changed. Radnitzer said she feared her senior show wouldn't happen.

"[My senior show] is the big reason I've stayed in the art department because of how exciting your senior show is. I was really worried my friends wouldn't get to come back."

Radnitzer's goal was to help the viewer "get to know the person in the portrait by seeing their glowing smile, hear their favorite song, and touch a replica of a flower that they love," she said in her artist's statement displayed at the opening of the gallery.

"Being happy isn't about the career you choose or the school you go to, it's about the people you meet and the friendships you keep."

The exhibition will be open until April 9 from 1 - 5 p.m. on weekdays in the UTM Fine Arts Gallery.

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