Faculty-sanctioned pure and utter destruction. That’s how art students at Tyler Junior College unwound ahead of finals on Wednesday.

The college hosted its 10th annual Thunderdome event, which sees pieces of art go head-to-head in an elimination-style competition.

“It’s a battle to the death with the art pieces and only one person is winning,” sophomore Tobi Goetz said.

Goetz said the competition is a way to help students have some fun and work off stress ahead of their end-of-semester exams.

Each piece was voted on by the audience for which would be kept — before Goetz and classmates reduced the loser to rubble, scraps of paper and even ash.

“My final is due in a week and it helps a lot with stress,” freshman Hunter Truitt said.

As soon as the loser was announced each round, participants grabbed a makeshift weapon and went to town. The audience laughed and cheered as students took baseball bats and swords to the artwork their classmates and professors had spent so much time creating.

Art Department Chair Derrick White won the faculty round competition. His painting and $250 was offered to the student winner, with the opportunity to take a chance to double their money.

White said only one of the four envelopes was a losing card, which read “destroy.” In 10 years, only one student had drawn that card, so student winner Meagan Killian decided to roll the dice.

Unfortunately, she became the second student in the history of the competition to have to destroy her own art piece.

“That was painful,” she said.

Killian let her twin sister do the honors. She said she wasn’t too upset, though, because she planned to use the destroyed painting to create something new.


Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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