Oldham County residents
win art awards at UK exhibition
student art exhibition
highlights mixed media
Helen E. McKinney
(June 2010) While studying art at the University
of Kentucky, La Grange, Ky., resident Virginia Conn has learned that
the most successful art is that which pushes boundaries. She is one
of two students from Oldham County who recently won awards in the Carey
Ellis Juried Student Art Exhibition in Lexington, Ky.
Conns mixed media work
won the Arturo Alonzo Sandoval
Conn, who has now graduated summa cum laude with two
distinct bachelor degrees in English and Art Studio, was both excited
and surprised that I won the award, as the pieces that won were my first
foray into mixed media.
Conn won the Arturo Alonzo Sandoval Fiber Award, a new award presented
this year at the Carey Ellis show. Sandoval is the Alumni Endowed Professor
of Art at the University of Kentucky who donated the $100 cash prize.
The award was presented to an artist juried into the Carey Ellis show
whose work demonstrated the use of fiber.
She usually works in pencil and conte pencil a mix between charcoal
and graphite. Conn said the media she incorporated into her works included
twine and tracing paper in addition to the drawing component.
The Sandoval award is technically an award for fiber-based art,
so my having used twine as a fiber in the piece was really a stroke
of luck, said Conn.
Conn, 23, said the particular piece of art that won the award was
inspired by a Dutch Baroque marriage portraiture, which was full of
hidden symbolism. Everything in the portraiture, from the style
of collars, to the placement of a ring on a particular finger, symbolized
something that was meaningful to the Baroque viewers but is incomprehensible
or merely unimportant to contemporary viewers. I took the idea and modernized
it, she said.
Just as each viewer would interpret what he or she sees differently,
each artist brings his or her own personal experiences and beliefs
to the work being created, Conn said. I took a very old
idea and made it my own, as any artist necessarily does.
Natasha Giles of Prospect, Ky., won first place honors in the Deans
Awards and received a $500 purchase prize. Giles, a graduate student
winner, works primarily in oil paint and plans to pursue a career as
a studio artist and teacher.
Her painting, titled On the Block, was created at a time
when she was really looking at female image in hip hop culture.
I was investigating the idea of how women are still seen in popular
culture as a commodity.
Giles,24, will graduate in 2011. Artists that have influenced her include
Jenny Saville, Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Luc Tuymans and Barkley Hendricks.
As an artist and painter, I am always thinking about where painting
can go, how can I push my medium, how can I bring painting off of the
wall, said Giles. I am thinking about how I can push painting
as an installation.
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