by Zoltan Varadi

Aspiring artists take note: have a closer look at the jumble of sketches lining your work space - a finished piece may be already under your nose.

That's precisely what happened when University of Alberta art professors Helen Gerritzen and Joan Greer visited the studio of graduate student Jewel Shaw and saw dozens of sketches of calf muzzles and a few found objects hanging on the wall.

"She uses these objects to draw from, and she makes a lot of these drawings on her wall - they're her research and inspiration," said Gerritzen, adding that collectively, the works in progress formed a completed whole. "We saw this piece and said can we just take this? We really liked the way it captured the idea."

Shaw's works are included in an exhibit of student artwork called Visual Thinking, which Greer and Gerritzen curated together. They explain that the exhibit is meant to communicate the research and thought processes behind artworks. But the fact that the exhibit is pegged as a drawing showcase might surprise those with a narrow definition of terms.

"We wanted people to tell us how - in their studio practice - they were using drawing to get to the notion of visual thinking," said Greer. "Drawing can be used very loosely and metaphorically, so it could be a literal type drawing - putting pencil to paper - or it could be something where there's manipulating of photographs by getting your hands involved in the actual developing process."

Other materials and techniques include studies of pigs made on animal vellum, the shadows cast by string, and, in the case of Sherri Chaba's Section 22, which resembles an aerial photograph, the ghosts of others' work.

"There was some other work done on the studio floor, and a lot of the remains of that work were literally on the floor," Greer said. "She took this paper and rubbed over it and brought out certain aspects, but it looks like topography."

Visual Thinking is on display at the Margaret Brine Gallery at the Alberta Gallery of Art until Feb. 27.