Colors and life flow off the walls, and intricate designs adorn the various artwork displayed in a student art competition in the Baugh Center for Visual Arts building. However, a painting that portrays a smiling young woman surrounded by butterflies stands out among the rest.
The art department held a student art competition, and the results were announced March 7. The Best in Show award went to senior mass communication/journalism major Samantha Hardcastle, for her piece titled My Inner Mona-Lisa.
“It’s actually (from) a photo my sister took of me, and it represents kind of how I feel inside,” Hardcastle said, “ my passion for God and for life and for what I want to do.”
She cleverly combined both faith and family aspects into the self-portrait. The butterflies in the painting are symbolic of how Christianity and her family have influenced her life.
“The butterflies represent my Christianity because there are seven of them, and the five that are actually on me represent my family,” Hardcastle said. “The one on top represents my father because we were adopted when we were really young, and so he took us under his wing. (It represents) God as well because we’re sheltered under his wing in Psalm 91.”
Hardcastle wishes that anyone who sees My Inner Mona-Lisa can see how God influenced her art and that her art can influence them as well.
“I know you can’t see God exactly on it, but I know that that’s what it’s exemplifying and that’s what I hope they (people) see,” she said. “It’s also very humbling… that it can serve its own little purpose in a way to inspire.”
More than 40 works are displayed in the student competition room in. Hardcastle applauded every piece of art in the room.
“They’re beautiful. They’re absolutely beautiful,” she said. “Everyone has their own expression in art, and it’s beautiful to see.”
Six honorable mention awards were given at the event, and five cash awards to two third-place winners, second-place winner, first-place winner and Best in Show award. Professor of art at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Tom Richard, was the juror of the competition.
“I was struck by the amount of quality artwork available for selection into the exhibition,” Richard said in a statement displayed at the exhibit. “The artists’ work made it quite difficult to choose work to be selected for the exhibition and to choose the best of the best.”
The painting selected by Richard to be first-place winner was The Odyssey by junior graphic design major Chance Alvis. His painting stood out because of its unique style and message it conveyed to the audience.
“The initial idea was just about taking a journey, making that odyssey,” Alvis said. “Finding yourself and venturing out in the world and becoming the person you want to be, and there’s a lot of mystery in that because who knows where they’re going to end up.”
Alvis’ painting portrays the unknown aspects of life while leaving interpretation largely open to the viewer.
He said, “I also wanted it to have a little bit of ambiguity, some mystery to it so that each person that looks at it can kind of find their own hidden meaning in it.”