On a campus where the lack of an arts community is usually bemoaned, Geneseo boasted its own Battle of the Artists on Saturday April 26. Activities Commission Arts & Exhibits Coordinator junior Chelsea Butkowski and senior resident assistant of Nassau Hall senior Matt Briars organized the event, sponsored by Student Association, the Department of Student Life, the Department of Residence Life and Activities Commission. A total of 50 students, many of whom are not studio art majors or minors, submitted 116 works. Artists could submit up to three works in any media.
Nine judges composed the panel that judged the works: Butkowski and Briars along with resident director of Nassau Hall Neal Brooks, SA Graphics coordinator Kristen Fuest, senior coordinator of student programs and activities Tiffany Brodner, student coordinator of the Lockhart, Lederer and Bridge galleries senior Lauren Slezak, associate professor of studio art Patrice Case, associate director of Residence Life Kevin Hahn and Dean of Residential Living Celia Easton.
Each member of the panel ranked their top 10 pieces out of all the submission. A number one ranking was worth 10 points, number two was worth nine and so on. The top three prizes received $200, $100 and $50, respectively. Students weighed their input through the people’s choice award, which granted $50 to the recipient. Seven honorable mentions were awarded as well.
According to Butkowski, in 2012 there was a similar Battle of the Artists contest. Though the two contests were both juried exhibitions, this year’s showcase provided a forum for the student art community during and after the event. The first Battle of the Artists only accepted three students for a month-long exhibit of their work, while this year’s event showcased the work of all entrants.
Sophomore Suma Hussein’s outstanding piece, “Transcendence,” a surreal charcoal facial portrait, took the top prize; granting her the option of displaying her work in the College Union. With the consent of each artist, other works were up for sale and some were even purchased by Residence Life to be displayed in residence halls.
According to Briars, Nassau Hall has recently moved toward becoming an arts-based community. The Battle of the Artists was among a series of events that have attempted to broaden the visual and performance arts for Nassau residents as well as the campus. The hall also had a talent show at the same time as the Battle of the Artists event.
“Other events we have had include dance boxes that we do throughout campus,” Briars said. “People walk through the boxes and are encouraged to dance through them. It brings a little vitality to campus as well as promoting the arts. We also work with the Geneseo [Learning Independence, Vocational and Educational Skills] Program to start an arts club with them.”
Battle of the Artists allowed students to participate in a more democratic and open competition than some of the other exhibitions on campus that showcase student talent.
“I think that events like Battle of the Artists allow students to see there is an art scene on this campus with many talented students doing work,” Butkowski said. “The event itself is a statement that students value art and we deserve a formal art education. It really embodies the liberal arts values of Geneseo.”