Wood takes on many forms at this year's "On Our Own Time" staff art exhibit – it illuminates, it symbolizes unjustified jealousy and it represents the UA's past.
It kicked off March 20 with a lunchtime reception, during which the show's winners also were announced. Winning entries have ribbons affixed to them.
Visitors to the annual exhibit can also vote for their favorite work as part of the People's Choice selection process. That winner will be announced at the Awards for Excellence luncheon on April 10.
All exhibitors are UA employees or the immediate family members of UA employees. They could choose to enter as amateur, intermediate or professional.
They come from Facilities Management, Arizona Cooperative Extension, the department of chemistry and biochemistry, the UA Police Department and more.
The 69 pieces by 45 artists in this year's show include many styles of paintings, photos of all colors and subject matter, pottery – including a very happy-looking turtle teapot – and sculpture, such as a miniature cabin, a tiny felt terrarium inside a light bulb, a hand holding a cell phone – and a broken-apart baseball bat titled "My Jealousy is Present in Proper Measure" that won Best in Show.
It was the first time Christopher Holleman, an X-ray technician for Campus Health Service, had entered the competition.
His two wooden lamps, carved from tree trunks, took third place in the amateur category, winning him $100 in the process.
He's done woodworking for many years, but he's only had the equipment to make the lamps for a little more than a year, he said.
The creator of the bat piece, David A. Gibbs, is the shop supervisor in the School of Art, where he trains students on how to use equipment safely.
This year's show is his second time to exhibit in "On Our Own Time," although he does exhibit in other places in town, he said.
The bat sculpture is the result of his musing about when jealousy is proper. Normally a broken bat, in relation to jealousy, symbolizes some kind of violence or power, he said.
The experience that led to the piece, however, involved a woman he was dating who had to cancel on him one night, after a prolonged absence, in order to help an elderly neighbor.
He was jealous even though he was touched that someone he was seeing was so kind and considerate.
So the sculpture is about "being let down because of someone else's good deed," he said. "How can I be angry at that? But you are."
His "Best in Show" win came with a $300 award.
Facilities Management's David Schereens has two pieces on display this year. He's most proud of his sculpture called "Junior Tree 1920," made from what he says is the last existing piece of a tree planted on campus by the junior class in 1920.
When it lived, the tree stood outside the old Student Union. Today that spot is occupied by part of the Student Union Memorial Center.
It had been in decline for many years as the campus grew up around it, and "there were a lot of broken hearts around here" when it became clear it was going to be removed for the new building, said Schereens, who has worked at the UA for 31 years.
He's had the slice of the tree in his shop for about 10 years as he tossed around ideas for what to do with it.
"It's has probably been at least 15 different things in my mind," he said.
The wood now serves as a backdrop for a glass rendering of the junior tree, created from Schereens' memory.
"This is a part of U of A history," he said. "It belongs at the U of A somewhere."