TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Swope Art Museum is hosting its 78th annual Wabash Valley art exhibit starting this week.

“This Friday is the opening of the 78th Wabash Valley exhibition. This year we opened it up to 5 states and we had 515 entries. The juror had quite a job to narrow it down to 80. Which was our total,” explained Swope Art Museum curator, Amy MacLennan.

Sarah Paulsen, this year’s juror, is an artist and educator from St. Louis. Having over 500 entries, the process of preparing the museum’s exhibit spaces took careful planning.

“The juror travels here to look at the work, and I try to find commonalities in the work, maybe its themes, colors, shapes, or a pattern or texture, and for me, it’s a really fun and challenging puzzle to try and make it all work. Artists choose to paint, sculpt, print, or carve or knit whatever they want. They choose whatever it is that they want to do and whatever meaning that they want,” MacLennan added.

While the event has changed throughout the years, it hasn’t strayed from its roots within the art community.

“Fifteen to twenty years ago, the artists would actually bring their works to the museum. That’s the history of exhibitions, thousands and thousands of artists in Paris (France) would gather, like a salon, and this is kind of a child of that. We think 515 entries is a lot, but back in those days they often had 1000. It has changed, and it has evolved, and it’s still going on. Our outreach is even a little further than the borders of Indiana,” MacLennan commented.

Although the event welcomed submissions from other states, a noticeable and familiar theme developed among the submitted artwork.

“An appreciation and gratitude for the landscape in the midwest, for family, for home, for an appreciation of nature and this comfort and healing. That’s why I love this regional exhibition, it really brings artwork here that is a reflection of us. Everybody is going to find something here that they appreciate or identify with and feel like they’re seen here.” MacLennan said.

The winning pieces have been selected and will be announced at the award ceremony at 6 p.m. taking place Friday, November 4.