If the French artist Edgar Degas got it right — that “art is not what you see, but what you make others see” — then the 2020 recipients of the USM Art Department’s Discipline Awards have widened our gaze with their arresting paintings, sculptures, photographs and objets d'art.
Traditionally, the faculty-nominated winners of the USM Art Department’s Discipline Awards and their work are celebrated at a reception for the Student Juried Show held in early April at the USM Art Gallery on the Gorham campus.
This year, in deference to the pandemic-mandated closure of the University in mid-March, the Discipline Award winners and their work were showcased online. To help the 2020 recipients share their vision with the world — and give cooped-up art lovers everywhere a chance to take in a stunning virtual exhibit from the safety of home — we bring you a sampling of their creativity along with the insights of the USM Art Department faculty who nominated them for consideration. As ever, the work reflects the range of disciplines offered by the USM Art Department, including art history, art education, book arts, ceramics, foundations, painting and drawing, photography and digital art & design, and sculpture.
And with that docent’s preamble done, here are the Spring 2020 Art Student Discipline Awards Recipients by departmental category:
Exploding Emotions, Paper Collage, by Fowzia Ali, a first-year B.F.A. student from Portland, Maine.
Nominated by Professor Jan Piribeck
Fowzia Ali is a dedicated student whose work suggests an immersion in the creative thinking process. She is both analytical and intuitive as her design work and written analysis of assignments suggest. She never stops with an easy answer and is persistent in expanding and growing her knowledge and skill. She has a keen eye and the sensitivity and commitment necessary to excel as an artist and designer. It has been a pleasure working with her in the Surface, Space, Time (2D) class.
Exploding Emotions, Paper Collage, by Fowzia Ali.
Spirit House, Ceramic Sculpture, by Cole Jackson Leighton, a senior pursuing a B.F.A. in Art Education with a studio concentration in Ceramics and minor in Book Arts, from Gorham, Maine.
Nominated by Professor Kelly Hrenko
Cole is an exceptional art educator. He is a thoughtful and creative teacher who works hard to ensure his students always feel supported and engaged in their learning.
Spirit House, Ceramic Sculpture, by Cole Jackson Leighton.
An Eternity in a Grain of Sand, an Instant in a Drop, Photograph by Ilana Welch, a junior pursuing a B.A. in Art History with minors in Honors and Archaeology, from Portland, Maine.
Nominated by Professor Donna Cassidy
Ilana has excelled in her art history courses at USM. Her papers are models of art-historical analysis, grounded in deep research and strong visual perception. She brings an infinite passion to her studies — always prepared to contribute to and lead class discussions, ready with interpretations and comments on the course readings, with insightful connections across her art-history courses and those in other fields. She is well on her way to establishing herself in the art community in Maine through her curatorial work at the UNE Art Gallery and her own exceptional practice as a photographer. Ilana’s outstanding accomplishments as an art history student makes her a most deserving recipient of the discipline award.
An Eternity in a Grain of Sand, an Instant in a Drop, Photograph, by Ilana Welch.
Repurposed Book by Kelly Ledsworth, a sophomore Art Education major, with a studio concentration in Painting & Drawing, from Portland, Maine.
Nominated by Professor Rebecca Goodale
Kelly Ledsworth’s enthusiasm for the artists’ book is contagious. She has found her voice.
Repurposed Book by Kelly Ledsworth.
Mushroom Pots, Ceramics Thrown and Sculpted, by Regan Mars, a senior pursuing a B.F.A. with a studio concentration in Ceramics, from Scarborough, Maine.
Nominated by Professor Christopher Cooper
Regan has developed a unique body of ceramic artwork through an evolved understanding of ceramic material and process. She has shown immense growth in her pottery wheel throwing skills in the past year and has combined that with a variety of surface treatments. She has applied drawing and illustration skills as well as her understanding of three-dimensional sculpture in her work. Regan's work illustrates a comprehensive knowledge of the ceramics process through her ability to control thrown forms, apply additive and subtractive sculpting methods, painting and drawing on ceramic surfaces, as well as consistency of glaze results. Regan has shown an ability to evolve her ceramic studio practice and techniques by creating a prolific amount of studio work, learning from that repetition, while also allowing her coursework to influence her artwork. Despite these challenging times, Regan has been successfully executing her ceramic work toward earning her BFA with focus and determination.
Mushroom Pots, Ceramics Thrown and Sculpted, by Regan Mars.
Painting & Drawing
The Young Master, Acrylic Painting on Paper, by Rachel Spigel, a senior pursuing a B.A. in Media Studies with minors in Philosophy and Studio Arts and a concentration in Painting & Drawing, from Chester, Vt.
Nominated by Professor Hannah Barnes
During her studies at USM, Rachel has been an exemplary student and a consistently positive presence in the Art Department. Rachel has consistently demonstrated commitment to her art practice, continual growth, and dedication to the arts at USM. Her paintings and drawings reflect a curious and experimental mindset, a sense of humor, an appetite for challenge, and a keen ability to make connections across disciplines, often connecting her art studies to her interests in media studies and philosophy. Additionally, Rachel has for several semesters worked as a life model in the art department — further evidence of her commitment and contribution to our community. Rachel shows great promise as a creative maker and thinker; through her art and her citizenship, she has made the Art Department proud.
The Young Master, Acrylic Painting on Paper, by Rachel Spigel.
Photography and Digital Art & Design
4-Color Silkscreen from Photo by Delaney Katherine Fone, a senior pursuing a B.A. in Studio Arts with a studio concentration in Photography and Digital Art & Design, from Woolwich, Maine.
Nominated by Professor Damir Porobic
The 2020 Photography and Digital Discipline Award goes to Delaney Fone, for her persistent and unwavering curiosity within the studio, her active engagement with her peers and their creative endeavors, and her commitment and continuous assistance with the co-curricular public engagement programming. Delaney has further repeatedly exhibited strong self-determination in working across several major analog and digital disciplinary platforms, creating innovative and interdisciplinary, but also a very labor-intensive portfolio. The Art Department thanks Delaney for consistently raising the bar in the classroom!
4-Color Silkscreen from Photo by Delaney Katherine Fone.
Laminated Wood Vessel Lined with Plaster by Molly Rea, a sophomore pursuing a B.A. in Art History, from Saco, Maine.
Nominated by Professor Michael Shaughnessy
There were a number of students in sculpture that are well deserving of this award. It was a very hard choice. Molly Rea has proven herself to have a strong visual sense, to do thoughtful work, and a growing capacity for moving and forming materials. It was, however, her utilization of the stationary belt sander in a way it had not been used before that revealed both an inventiveness in process and a growing concern for the craft of sculpture.
Laminated Wood Vessel Lined with Plaster by Molly Rea.
— By Marc Glass/USM Public Affairs, with reporting by Amy Hagberg, USM Art Department.