Natalie Wardlaw ’16 is one of six finalists in an art competition among students from institutions in the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO).
Wardlaw, a studio art major from Providence, Rhode Island, and Max Beatty ’16, a studio art major from Baltimore, were chosen by the Department of Studio Art to enter this year’s AICUO Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts (EVAs).
A panel of Ohio visual arts community leaders is reviewing Wardlaw’s portfolio of sculpture and photography for consideration for the Grand Award, which includes a $2,500 cash prize. One of the winning artist’s pieces will be purchased by AICUO and displayed in the governor’s office for one year.
“As a young artist, there is so much anxiety about trying to break into the ‘art world.’ It is difficult to know where to dive in or how to build credibility as an artist outside the Kenyon community,” Wardlaw said. “Being recognized by Kenyon and the AICUO has been a wonderful vote of confidence that has reminded me to trust my instincts and continue with my work while letting go of self-doubt.”
Professor of Art Claudia Esslinger said, “Natalie Wardlaw uses visceral materials to explore the feminine and aspects of medical knowledge. She uses figures both literally and metaphorically to celebrate the youthful female and question the progression of pain and exertion. Wax, gut, metal and text work together to make Natalie’s work complete, with layers of poetic inference to unravel.”
Artists were required to submit a video explaining their work. Wardlaw’s video includes stop-motion animation that plays off the still images she submitted.
“Sculpture and animation allow me to push my art to the closest imitation of life,” she wrote for the contest website. “Like dolls, I view figurative sculptures as personified objects that act as mediators between the physical world and the spiritual realm of creativity and spirits. I believe that through the process of creation and experiment we are able to find ourselves and deepen our connections with others.”
Wardlaw’s work also is up for a people’s choice award, as is Beatty’s. Their portfolios compete with 31 other nominated works in online voting that closes Feb. 26. The winners will be announced April 26 during an exhibit and reception at Otterbein University.
Last year Audrey Nation ’15 was the first Kenyon student to become a finalist for the Award of Excellence in the Visual Arts. She won the People’s Choice voting.
The Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts, launched in 2008, is the nation’s first intercollegiate online arts competition. The program provides each participant a permanent online portfolio on the contest website.