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August 22, 2013

ULM students win prestigious art fraternity scholarships

University of Louisiana at Monroe art students Victoria Smith of West Monroe, and Rachel Barnes of Dry Prong took home winning scholarships in the Kappa Pi International Honorary Art Fraternity competition.

Representing the local Delta Alpha chapter, Smith, who won first place, and Barnes who won third place, will appear alongside other scholarship winners in the Fall Sketchpad Newsletter.

Photographs of their work will be published in the 2014 Sketchbook.

“This award and the encouragement from both the faculty and the art students have really meant a lot,” said Smith.

“It helps to affirm that I am doing something right, that the art I make is enjoyed by someone other than me, and that I do make things worthy for the public and not just my studio. The scholarship gives me confidence that I can possibly make a living off my talent and love of art.”

Barnes feels thrilled, “that our art department, not so much myself, has gotten attention on an international level.”

She said, “We have always had students place in this scholarship competition.”

For the Kappa Pi competition, each student submitted photographs of five works of their best art along with two letters of recommendation.

Smith’s favorite submission piece – “Coulrophobia” – focused on her childhood fear of clowns through an installation piece featuring acrylic paint and permanent marker on glass mason jars.

“It was an assignment from Clifford Tresner’s advanced drawing class,” she said.

“We had to explore the notion of site specific installation along with addressing the question, ‘What is drawing?’”

Barnes’s paintings were inspired by “the human figure and its ability to express and communicate.”

She said, “These were part of a series where I was focused mainly on the figure and its placement in space. [The figures] all have maze-like patterns as backgrounds, giving them a sense that they are stuck in this place. It is more an obstruction of choice that is hindering them from making it out of these ‘labyrinths.’”

Of her art professors, Smith said, “Joni Noble, Clifford Tresner, Gary Ratcliff, Brian Fassett, and Wayne Horton are all valued in my eyes. Many have seen me at my worst – sobbing from stress – and have always been able to help me back up and keep trying.”

When she first came to ULM, Barnes planned to focus on graphic design, but her professors quickly widened her interests.

“After my first sculpture class with Clifford Tresner,” she said, “and my first painting class with Dara Engler, I realized I could not separate each form of art. They are all interconnected. Brian Fassett has taught me more than I could have ever learned by myself in design, and I’ve loved every printmaking class I’ve had with Doyle Jeter.”

Both students attribute their initial interest in art to their mothers.

“I have always been exposed to art from the very beginning of my life,” said Smith.

“I have never known life without some sort of project or craft being done in our kitchen, no matter where we lived. My mother is an artist and was known to do murals around the San Francisco bay area. She has always encouraged my love of art. I owe a lot of my natural abilities to her.”

Barnes said, “I’ve always been interested in art. My mother was a big influence on me as a child. I was in awe at how easily she could create something on paper. She always pushed me to learn about art and was the catalyst for me becoming a graphic designer.”

Both students have won other awards in the past.

Smith has also received the Color Award in the 2012 ULM Student Competition, the ULM Student of Distinction Award, a Talent Grants from VAPA, and the People’s Choice Award for the 2013 ULM Student Competition.

She was part of ULM’s Emerging Scholar program.

Barnes was chosen for the juried exhibit “Art from the GUT” in 2011 and received Talent Grants for five semesters.

She won the President’s Award for Student Exhibition in 2012, where her work was displayed in the president’s office for a year.

Also in 2012, she won the Division of Art Award for Student exhibition and had her art installed in The Upstairs Gallery and The Downstairs Gallery for The Downtown Gallery Crawl.

Her work was displayed again in 2013, the same year in which she won the Beverly Jean Marvin Award.

Smith plans to graduate in December with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education, and Barnes hopes to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design in the spring of 2014.

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