Competition is in the air, and the stakes are high.
Friday, more than 30 art majors will compete in the annual Undergraduate Student Art Awards.
The competition grants more than $24,000 each year in awards. Prizes are funded by a number of generous benefactors and are awarded either by faculty members or by a student-selected panel of external judges.
Art professor Beth Grabowski said the awards are substantial — usually no less than $400 each and an average of about $1,000 each.
“It’s a significant amount of change for the students who get these,” she said.
Not only does the competition allow students a chance at winning significant monetary awards, but it is also a valuable professional experience. For many of the students participating, the competition is the first time they have displayed their work for a jury.
Junior Linnea Lieth entered last year for the first time and said even though she didn't win, it was still a positive experience.
“I think it’s a really good thing because it allows all of the students in the Art Department to see what the other students are creating," she said. "I’m kind of inspired by that."
This year she entered one drawing, two photographs and a sculpture in the competition. Lieth said this competition is the best way to see a broad range of student-curated work. The majority of other exhibitions is organized by class and limited to what students created in that particular class.
The Undergraduate Student Art Awards will also include an open house which coincides with the 2nd Friday Art Walk in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Several years ago, art faculty decided the student work was so impressive that they wanted the community to enjoy it as well. Student artwork in Hanes Art Center will remain on display from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday as part of the art walk.
“We just invite everyone to come and see what our students are doing, and it’s pretty fabulous," Grabowski said. "I would put our best students up against the best in the country, honestly."
The open house will include an information session about opportunities it affords its students. With the recent addition of the minor in studio art, the program has seen expansion. The minor started with only 15 students, but it has already reached more than 80 participants.
Yun-Dong Nam, a professor in the art department, said the information session is a great way for current undecided majors, transfer students, prospective students and members of the community to get a feel for the program and all it has to offer. The open house will also allow visitors to participate in hands-on exhibits and workshops.
“I think that everyone who comes will find something they’re interested in and enjoy at least one part of it,” Lieth said. “There’s a lot going on.”
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