L'avenir de l'art | Étudiants lauréats du concours artistique annuel 2018

We celebrate the student winners of our 2018 Annual Art Competition

For the past 35 years, we’ve recognized the dedication and accomplishments of our Annual Art Competition winners. Join us in celebrating the student winners of this year’s competition, whose boundary-pushing work has us excited for the future of artmaking.


1st place Catherine Ying Wai Pickop

mineral pigment and coffee residue rubbed on watercolor paper, 22×30

“Repetition, stillness and rhythm, and a yearning for harmony, are essential elements in my work. Rubbing natural mineral pigments on paper, using the pressure of my fingers to control the tonal movement in color, is, for me, an intimacy between my body, mind, paper and the medium. The sound, scent and feeling are therapeutic and meditative.”

2nd place Young Ju Lee

acrylic on canvas, 30×40

“I was inspired by my interpretation of how the human mind works. This process constantly produces assumptions and confusions of life, which I express on the canvas. Between explores the idea that there’s no strict border between certain concepts in the deeper mind. For example, orange can be pink, and a plane can be a line.”

3rd place Tina M. Vigos

Badger Country
watercolor on paper, 30×22

“I pulled the design essence of Badger Country from a photo I took in the High Uinta Mountains of northern Utah. It’s the first abstract painting I’ve created. The painting speaks to me of deep introspection, our relationship to the natural world and our place in the grand scheme of the infinite universe.”


1st place Madison Mecca

Champion Blue
screenprint, 16×13

“The idea for this screenprint came to me while I was going through some old sketches of birds I’d encountered. Birds, particularly birds of prey, embody feelings of power, elegance and—I think—fantasy. I incorporated these traits into a character of my own making, which I dubbed Champion Blue.”


2nd Place Andy Zhang

Rarer Than the Unicorn
pencil and ink on paper, 21×21

“The black rhinoceros is among the most endangered species on the planet. The patterns around the rhino are in the background, but they almost take precedence over the animal— reminiscent of how rhinos are fading into extinction in their diminishing habitats. This illustration is dedicated not only to these majestic beasts, but to all animals whose population struggles in the daily fight for survival.”


3rd Place Valerie Coe

Cow Ponies on the Circle H
watercolor on paper, 11×14

“This painting is particularly meaningful to me because the ranch and the horses belong to good friends; it reminds me of a wonderful visit. I had so much fun playing with color on the white horse and in the shadows. I cherish the lovely luminosity I can only achieve with watercolor.”




1st Place Debbie Mueller

Morning Geometry
oil on canvas, 48×30

“My first workshop experience was on Monhegan Island in 2017. I became captivated by the angles and shadows on the lighthouse keeper’s house. Since then, that building has been like a painting instructor to me. Each time I approach it is a unique opportunity to consider design, abstraction, values and color. I’m not done learning from this great teacher.”


2nd Place Esther Wilson

Neighborhood Watch
acrylic on canvas, 20×16

“On one of my evening dog walks, I snapped a photo. I was inspired by the light and dark contrast in the photo, as I had been struggling with capturing different light scenes. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to paint freely and not to be bound by a specific style.”


3rd Place Yuta Uchida

oil on canvas, 36×44

“I painted this piece in the first year of my MFA program; it’s a scene from my daily commute to my studio and school. On a public bus, we share space but rarely interact. Although we don’t know one another, we look like we’re heading the same way. That relationship overlapped with my introspective thought on my own identity.”



1st Place Nicole Beck

oil on canvas, 30×24

“Brooke is part of a series of portraits exploring various female subjects in my family and of my acquaintances. By playing with color, shape and texture with the palette knife, I hoped to convey the individuality and soul of the subject. This piece represents a more fluid, intuitive development in my style because it forced confidence in mark-making and color choice.”


2nd Place Carrie Williams

oil on canvas, 16×8

“Roache was done with a palette knife, a technique I just recently started to explore. I was inspired by the painting Peace by Augusto Giacometti, which I saw at the Albertina last year. Roache was done in my spare time outside of school in a figure-drawing studio. We set up the light to come from the side instead of from above.”


3rd Place Gerry O’Donnell

Feeling Blue
oil on canvas, 36×24

“I created Feeling Blue to highlight mental illness and the many forms of depression, which is increasingly prevalent and doesn’t discriminate. The painting shows the turmoil and despair of one person, isolated and locked in, hiding true feelings. The abstract palette-knife strokes give a sense of chaos, forcing the viewer to investigate further to discover the meaning behind the painting.”



1st Place Yige Xie

oil on panel, 13×13

“During my first semester of graduate school, I decided to paint Lego bricks. Because of the bricks’ various colors and shapes, I could make them into anything I wanted. Since then, toys have assumed new significance to me, and I draw inspiration from the toys I played with during my childhood. This project led me to explore new and different compositions of toys.”


2nd Place Jazzmine Williams

12:45 PM
oil on canvas, 11×14

“My subject for this painting was an interior study at my college. This point of view is from inside my college’s computer lab—I stay close to the door. It’s memorable to me because I always stay in that room throughout the day to study for other classes.”


3rd place Carrie Williams

oil on linen, 24×28

“Pheasants is part of a series I’ve been doing based on taxidermy. It took a while to get the setup to look like a classical still life and also make the birds appear to interact. I ended up with a diagonal composition inspired by Juan Sánchez Cotán. The pyracantha berries add a touch of red to the overall greenish-blue atmosphere.”

Acrylic on the Rise

Several of our competition winners paint with acrylics because they find the medium accessible and incredibly mutable, so they can use it any which way they want. If you want to explore acrylics further, start with Rethinking” acrylics:> Radical” solutions for exploring the world most versatile medium>, one of our top resources on the subject. Enjoy!

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