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Ceramic Brahman bull wins Best of Show at Student Art Exhibit

brown ceramic bust of an anthropomorphic Brahman bull

“Rage” by Alaska Gilmour.

Artist Alaska Gilmour let her friend name her entry in Stetson’s 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition “because I honestly didn’t think it would win anything,” Gilmour said of her quasi-anthropomorphic ceramic bust of a Brahman bull.

Artist Ysabel Flores didn’t realize until recently that one of her entries, a painting of a man perusing books in what appears to be a refrigerated section of a grocery store, is really a self-portrait.

Gilmour’s ceramic, named “Rage,” by her friend Natalie Greenshields, won the Ann West Hall Best of Show Award. Flores’ painting, “The Search for Self,” won the Charlene Thomas Award of Excellence.

Flores also earned a Friends of Art Purchase Award for her ceramic work “Formal Gatherings,” making her the exhibition’s only multiple-award winner.

Student stands in art gallery next to painting.

Student artist Ysabel Flores stands beside her painting, “The Search for Self.”

The 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s DeLand campus. Sixty-two student artists submitted 129 works to be considered for the show.

Stetson art faculty chose 77 pieces from 36 artists to be exhibited. Gisela Carbonell, Ph.D., curator of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, judged the show and chose the winners of six awards, while Stetson students voted on the Student Choice Award.

All Stetson students regardless of major were eligible to participate in the exhibition. This year’s show includes works by 16 non-art majors.

Gilmour, a junior with a double major in psychology and studio, currently is in Thailand as part of an exchange program.

By email, she said she “just thought it would be cool” if Greenshields titled the ceramic “because she went to the effort of entering it for me on my behalf. When Nat told me what she had called it, I burst out laughing. I told her it definitely wouldn’t win anything now with a name like that, but I guess I was wrong.”

A fifth-generation native of Zimbabwe, Gilmour noted her family, who still lives there, breeds Brahman bulls. “I’ve grown up around these floppy-eared cows my whole life, so I guess that was my inspiration for the piece,” she said.

Alaska Gilmour walks down a dirt trail through palm trees and and an ocean in the background

Alaska Gilmour
Photo/Stuart Gilmour

Gilmour said there “are not a lot of higher education options in Zimbabwe” and she chose Stetson because of Florida’s warm climate “and I liked how small Stetson is and how much history it has.”

Her main mediums are oils and ceramics, but she had never worked in the latter until she took a class under Professor Dan Gunderson in her first year.

“I had to beg them to let me into the class because it was already full, and I took the class without much intention of pursuing ceramics,” Gilmour said. “But I fell in love with the medium and loved working with Dan.”

Gilmour is uncertain which of her degrees she will pursue as a career path.

“I get bored easily so I’m sure I’ll chop and change careers,” she said. “It’s good I have two very different degrees to follow. I’ll definitely carry on making art throughout my life – I’m just not sure if it will be professionally or just as a hobby. Life is too fleeting to have a set plan, things change all the time and therefore so will I.”

Flores, a Sanford resident and senior studio art major with minors in art history and religious studies, said her painting “The Search for Self” was inspired by “being in college and all the things you’re learning, looking for your identity, trying to find it amidst all the noise and all the confusion.”

“Sometimes I get overwhelmed by it — learning about stuff I’m not comfortable with, stuff that makes you question your whole identity, that makes you question your religion and why you believe what you believe. But at the same time, I find it interesting. That’s why I did religious studies. I enjoy learning how people find their identity in religion or in a tradition.

Student stands in art gallery with two pieces, each wrapped in cloth -- one black and one blue

Student artist Ysabel Flores with her ceramic work, “Formal Gatherings.”

“I didn’t even realize until recently that really I was the person in that painting. I didn’t realize how much I was looking for my identity. This is the most direct I’ve been with my painting. Normally I like to keep myself out if it, like ‘Oh, this is just a still life.’ I’m just learning now it’s OK to be vulnerable. I want to be even more courageous and go further with it.”

Flores’ award-winning ceramic work, “Formal Gatherings,” is composed of a skull-like shape wrapped in black cloth paired with a square plate-like object wrapped in blue cloth.

“The whole idea of wrapping an object is like you’re hiding your identity behind something, and you’re trying to make yourself appear to be something else,” she said. “But you can kind of see through the form of the cloth. It makes you think about who’s under there.”

Flores hopes to earn a graduate degree in studio art and teach art, but she also hopes to continue pursuing religious studies.

“I feel it’s so important to maintain that idea of culture and art and religion — they all kind of go together,” she said. “My dream would be to travel and meet other art students from different places and see how their religion and how their culture affect what art they create.”

exterior of hand art center on DeLand campusOther award winners include:

  • Friends of Art Purchase Award — London Crawley, “Booger.”
  • Friends of Art Purchase Award — Hali Pollard, “Remnants of Hester Prynne.”
  • Paul, Elkind, Branz & Kelton P.A. Award of Excellence — Solstice Backus-Little, “Welcome to Your Life – Grouplove.”
  • Jenny Catron Award of Distinction — Matt Garrett, “Cascade Azul (Blue Cascade).”
  • Bobbi Baugh Award of Distinction — Cat Keve, “Straw.”
  • Rich & Lilis George Award to Non-Art Major — Kassandra Teklinski, “Forgotten.”
  • Student Choice Award — Lori Jones, “Mother Earth.”

If you Go:
The 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s Palm Court/Quad, 139 E. Michigan Ave., DeLand. Admission is free and open to the public. Designated parking is available in the lots at East Arizona Avenue.

Center hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Closed on national holidays, holiday weekends and fall, Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Information: 386-822-7270.

Rick de Yampert