Staring at a ceramic and wood sculpture displayed on a tiered podium in the Cox Fine Arts Center, Lily Elison admitted that her piece looks a bit different sitting in the white-walled gallery than it typically does at home. “It looks pretty nice out here,” said Elison, a junior studying art education and art therapy at Miami University. “It sits on my floor at home. It looks better up here.” Titled “Intertwined” and featuring a row of five rectangular frames containing interlaced black and white ceramic hands, Elison’s piece is one of 357 works of art on view at the 2019 Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. “This was one of my first sculptural pieces. It was the last piece I did in high school in my ceramics class, and it was my introduction to actually sculpting things,” Elison said. “It kind of stands for really anything. It’s up to the viewer and what they interpret. It is like two different things coming together in many different ways.” Each year, hundreds of amateur and professional artists from all around Ohio come together at the exhibition, which officially opened with an awards reception on July 23. At the event, 43 exhibition awards totaling more than $20,000 were distributed to artists in categories such as “Best of Show,” “Juror’s Choice,” and awards funded by the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) and other Ohio-based organizations. In keeping with this year’s exhibition focus on the themes of sustainability and conservation, several “A Perspective From Nature” awards were given to artists who featured natural materials in their work. Considered the largest juried art show in Ohio, the 2019 exhibition, presented in the Cox Fine Arts Center on the fairgrounds, features work by 249 artists hailing from 34 Ohio counties. It is estimated anywhere from 40,000 to 53,000 visitors will stop by the exhibition during the fair this year. “The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to view the work created by the many diverse and talented artists who are living in our state,” said OAC Executive Director Donna S. Collins. “The Ohio Arts Council congratulates all of the artists on their exceptional work and also the time and commitment they give to making Ohio the best place to live, work, and play.” For Elison, receiving one of the OAC’s amateur division winner awards was unexpected but welcome news. “I only entered this piece this year, and I was surprised to see it get in,” she said. “I think it is pretty awesome that they give out amateur awards where you don’t need to be a practicing artist or anything. I am in college, and that money is going to really help out with the studios.” In addition to the visual art on view, for the first time in its history, the Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition will host a day dedicated to poetry on Aug. 1 . Held in the Cox Fine Arts Center's rotunda from 1 to 7 p.m., the poetry showcase will feature an afternoon of poetry readings and recitations by student poets, members of the Ohio Poetry Association, and Ohio Poet Laureate Dave Lucas. A youth art exhibition and creative arts showcase are housed across the fairgrounds in Kasich Hall. The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition is open from July 24 through Aug. 3, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Aug. 4, the last day of the fair, the exhibition is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about the Ohio State Fair, visit ohiostatefair.com . A full list of OAC award winners follows: A PERSPECTIVE FROM NATURE AWARDS Professional Division ($500) Amateur Division ($500) OHIO ARTS COUNCIL AWARDS Division Winner Award - Professional Division ($300) New Artist Award - Professional Division ($250) Division Winner Award - Amateur Division ($250) New Artist Award - Amateur Division ($250) Special Art Purchase ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook , follow us on Twitter , or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov . ### Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist Featured Photo: A collage of images from the 2019 Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. Photos by Amanda Etchison.