Posting Date: May 21, 2009
The artists' visions
By Gina Gareri-Watkins
The winners of “The art of seeing” cover art contest for the Kennesaw State University Art 1107 textbook were recently announced. Sponsored by the Pearson Custom Publishing Company of Boston, Massachusetts, the contest honored five KSU visual arts student works. The first place winner will appear on the front cover of the Fall 2009 art appreciation textbook “Arts in Society: Visual Art,” with the artist’s biography and photograph on the inside cover, and the second and third place winners will share the back cover. The winners also received cash prizes.
Mark Verlander placed first with his oil on canvas piece “Bearing Residuum.” Melinda McPherson placed second with her pen on paper illustration, “Marquis,” and Emily Lester placed third with her mixed media/book art creation “Through My Eyes.” Runners-up included Melissa Ray for her cross-processed color film, “Reflections” and Anthony D'Amico for his untitled digital illustration.
According to Jessica Stephenson, KSU visiting assistant professor and interim coordinator for Art 1107, this is the first year KSU has partnered with Pearson on an art appreciation book. “The department was looking for a new textbook to meet all our needs, and Pearson said they could help make our ideal book,” she said. “The book is a synthesis of ‘Artforms’ by Duane and Sarah Preble and ‘The Art of Seeing’ by Paul Zelanski. It is a custom publication made exclusively for Kennesaw that won’t circulate outside of KSU.”
Stephenson has helped guide the project from beginning to end. “I worked with all the Art 1107 instructors and Pearson in an editorial role,” explained Stephenson. “‘The art of seeing’ theme for the cover art contest came from the Zelanski textbook. I thought it was a really great theme for an art appreciation course. When we communicate visually, we learn to look at images and learn the visual grammar to interpret images. The three winning pieces really speak to the mysterious aspects of the visual.”
The contest was open to all currently enrolled visual arts students, and submissions included drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, mixed media, photography, graphic designs and digital illustrations. The winning pieces were selected from over 60 original works submitted by 30 visual arts students. The judges, Assistant Professor Daniel Sachs and Part-time Assistant Professors Deborah Hutchinson and Pipar West, were impressed by both the quality and breadth of submissions. Stephenson found the submissions strong in both visual technique and artistic vision.
“All the student work was already done, so the professors worked with students and reviewed the best work in their portfolios. We had a pretty good sample across the board, but it was very easy to come up with the finalists. They really captured what we were looking for. Verlander’s first place canvas speaks to the metaphysical, an entry into the artist’s vision.”
Verlander moved to the Atlanta area for work just nine months ahead of Hurricane Katrina and enrolled at KSU in 2006. His canvasses often reflect the turmoil of the event, and the vibrancy of his colors displays a New Orleans influence. “The original intent was to push the intensity of the color,” explained Verlander. “Color is always an important thing to me, exaggerating the colors of the natural world and pushing them to the extreme.” Regarding his first-place win, “It was a complete surprise to me that my painting was picked. I suppose it has a lot to do with the stairway at the end of the alley that leads you to a doorway.”
McPherson’s second place illustration “really speaks to the more formal properties and what you can actually do with line,” said Stephenson. McPherson, a native of Acworth, draws inspiration from her musical background and an accompanying need for self-expression. “The creative spark in me really began when I picked up a viola in the sixth grade orchestra,” said McPherson. “During that time I kept sketchbooks to express myself visually while listening to music. Like playing an instrument, the brush is a tool to create art that can inspire others.”
“Lester’s creation, ‘Through My Eyes,’ speaks to the role of the artist,” said Stephenson. “It very much draws you to the fact that there is an artist behind the image.” Lester always knew she would be an artist. “I started creating art before I could hold a pencil and have continued to pursue my passion. I work mostly in mixed media using a combination of bookbinding, photography and printmaking. I make art because I cannot ‘not’ make art,” she said.
Pearson is also developing an online study guide, “My Art Kit,” to accompany the textbook. The site will include an online gallery of all 60 “The art of seeing” contest works submitted by KSU students. Only those students registered for KSU’s Art 1107 course will be able to access the online guide and gallery.