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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Drawn together

Freshman%26%23160%3BJulie+Choi+won+the+first+prize+for+the+Artfest+competition+with+her+drawing+of+a+phoenix.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Freshman Julie Choi won the first prize for the Artfest competition with her drawing of a phoenix.

The walls of James R. Reynolds Student Art Gallery are lined with 135 pieces of work crafted by current students, celebrating talent across the university.
All of the work was submitted for ArtFest, an annual student art competition and exhibition sponsored by the Memorial Student Center’s Visual Arts Committee. ArtFest winners were announced at the exhibition’s opening reception on March 8.
Winning submissions and other student-made pieces will be on display until April 21.
Julie Choi, visualization freshman, was the first place winner with her piece “Phoenix of Immortality” and said while this is her first year participating in ArtFest, she has enjoyed entering art competitions.
“It’s kind of fun to put your work in and if you are lucky enough to get accepted then you get to see your work hanging [with] a bunch of other really cool people as well,” Choi said.
Choi’s “Phoenix of Immortality” was drawn with pen and ink, chalk pastel and white charcoal. She said she was inspired by the meaning of the phoenix in both Western and Eastern culture.
“I was doing a series at the time,” Choi said. “I was trying to see how Eastern and Western cultures were similar and one of the symbols was the phoenix. … In the European culture, it’s supposed to be a symbol of death and rebirth … while [in] Asian folklore it’s usually a symbol of immortality.”
Mary Casillas, biochemistry senior, is currently the MSC Visual Arts Committee Chair and said she first got involved with VAC her freshman year. Through the years, she has helped organize events such as ArtFest to build on her love of art.
“There’s no prompt for ArtFest, so really we get everything and anything from all sorts of colleges, majors, classifications,” Casillas said. “To see that no matter what major or classification they are, or what ethnic background, racial background, they all took the time to create these pieces and thought it was important to send it to ArtFest.”
Three architecture and visualization faculty and staff were selected to evaluate all entries and select the top three winners. Winners were announced at the open reception where first place received $100 in prize money, while second received $50 and third received $25.
“These are such talented people,” Casillas said “They don’t even devote their lives to art sometimes, but the work they bring in is incredible.”
Second place winner Amanda Skluzacek, environmental design senior, said her piece, “Amsterdam,” was inspired by a photograph she captured of a fall day in the capital of the Netherlands.
“I’ve never put my art out there before, so going into it I was pretty nervous just because I knew I was going to be there with people that I knew were going to be looking at my art,” Skluzacek said. “It was really gratifying to not only see my art on the wall but also see other people reacting to my art.”
After filling out rubrics, the judges’ scores for each entry are submitted electronically and first, second and third place winners are calculated. The judges also provide feedback for the top 10 pieces of art.
“When people are really excited and happy to see [my artwork], it’s really satisfying,” Choi said. “It’s your heart and soul poured into this work and [it’s] amazing and really heartwarming.”

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