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Alumna and Graduate Student Showcases Artwork in Jut's Café

October 5, 2010

During the month of October, Deborah Oakes, '98, will be displaying her art work in Jut's Café. Oakes, who is now pursuing a teaching degree and a master's degree in art education, received her bachelor's degree in biology from the University as well as a minor in art. Her art show will include pieces from her undergraduate studies along with pieces she has produced recently, like earthenware masks, jewelry and enameling.

"All of the pieces have a special significance to me and all have required a lot of time to make them," Oakes said. "But I would have to say 'The Prophet Ezekiel' - my version of the one in the Sistine Chapel - is my favorite. I had always marveled at Michelangelo's effort in painting the ceiling while on his back for three years and creating it gave me a little piece of the ceiling to hang in my home."

When she attended Averett as an undergraduate, her first love was art. At the time, she was worried about supporting herself as an artist and instead chose to major in biology and minor in art so she would have a solid career. She obtained a job as a sleep disorders technologist, a position she has worked in for the past decade. As it often does, life changed for Oakes; and she found herself unable to continue working third shift.

"I love art, making it, learning it and sharing it with others so much that I thought it would be natural for me to teach it," Oakes said. "I know I did not have to choose Averett for my master's degree; but I love the encouragement, the personalization and the good academics available. Averett has excellent art professors that had seen some artistic promise in me and actually spoke to me about an art major in 1996. I was impressed that they took that much interest in me, and I never forgot that.

"Since entering the classroom, I have found a love for teaching that was probably always within me. When I see children excited about what they have learned through art and what they have created, I know in some way, I have added a positive moment to their lives."

Oakes hopes to be able to graduate in May of 2012, and then plans to find a position as an art teacher before working her way into teaching at the college level.

Some of Oakes' artwork is for sale - ranging from $20-$350. She encourages viewers of her work to send her an e-mail letting her know what they think about her artwork, what they like best and why. "I love to get feedback," she said.

Jut's Café is open Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and then closes before reopening from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The café is closed on Saturday, but is open on Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.