Five undergraduate and graduate students in the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts were named winners of the annual Faculty-Mentored Research Awards, given by the College of Creative Arts during a recent ceremony at the Creative Arts Center.

The awards honor students for excellence in faculty-mentored creative, research and scholarly works in the arts. This can be evidenced through, but is not necessary limited to, works, exhibitions, performances, publications, or any other form of scholarly, creative and/or research work related to the arts. Additional consideration is given to works that effectively help advance the College’s contributions to the research mission of the University.

The awards were presented by Dean Paul Kreider and Associate Dean William Winsor.

Undergraduate Awards

Art student Ben Gazsi, whose faculty member was sculpture professor Dylan Collins, won the Undergraduate First Place Award. This award included $750 for the student as well as a $750 travel award for the faculty member.

Gazsi’s project, titled “Coopers Rock Giant” was created for an advanced sculpture course focusing on the human figure. The specific assignment was to create a piece to be displayed outside of the normal critique gallery. Gazsi finds most of his inspiration from nature, so he decided to find all the material, onsite, from Cooper’s Rock State Park, near Morgantown. One of the most important aspects of this project was obtaining permission and establishing a relationship with the state park administration. The sculpture was on view in the park during 2012 and Gazsi has now replaced it with another sculpture of a bear using the same approach.

Art student Daniela Londono-Bernal won the Undergraduate Second Place Award. Her faculty mentor is Erika Osborne, assistant professor of art. The award included $500 for the student and a $500 travel award for the faculty member.

Londono-Bernal’s project was a Bird Flock Installation Sculpture that consisted of a flock of paper birds emerging from a newspaper display-box at the Creative Arts Center. This work was created as a commentary on the current social reality of freedom, specifically freedom of expression and freedom of the press. As part of the project, Londono-Bernal not only researched contemporary violations of these freedoms in different places and cultures around the world, but also explored the flexible meaning of this work in relation to the different elements used as symbols within it. She also explored the flexible meaning of the installation work as an always-changing piece.

Art student Jennifer Marcus was named the winner of the Undergraduate Third Place Award. Her faculty mentor is Jason Lee, assistant professor of foundations. The award included $250 for the student and a $250 travel award for the faculty member.

Marcus’s project was titled “Transmitting,” which, like most of her work, was dedicated to her experience with cancer in an effort to understand and accept that time of her life. While the majority of her other pieces use literal symbols to convey Marcus’s story and act as narratives, “Transmitting” aims to explore the same content through shape and form. The challenge of transitioning from realistic images to abstract forms was a huge leap for Marcus, but the result was a series of paper sculptures that contrast hard, rigid shapes with soft, elegant forms. Transitioning required a long paper-folding process that involved applying smoke to the paper, which enhanced its stiffness.

Graduate Student Awards

Art student Vlad Basarab was named the Graduate First Place Winner. His faculty mentor is Gerald Habarth, associate professor of art and coordinator of electronic media. The award includes $1,000 for the student and a $1,000 travel award for the faculty member.

Basarab’s project is titled “The Archeology of Memory.” He states that his role as an artist is to dig through the layers of history like a cultural and psychological archeologist by questioning traditional methods of preserving and transforming collective memory. Books made out of clay allow him to explore the organic connections between words and earth. Basarab set up a destructive environment for the books so they could dissolve into a natural-looking landscape. The breaking down of a clay book in a time-lapse video resembles the idea of washing away memory in time. Over the course of a week, the book was transformed into a structure similar to the Grand Canyon. After documenting the process, Basarab altered the speed and edited the video to darken the background.

Music student Sheila Barnhart received the Graduate Second Place Award. Her faculty mentor is professor of piano Christine Kefferstan. The award includes $500 for the student and a $500 travel award for the faculty member.

Barnhart’s project was titled “Chopin’s Preludes: Teaching Technical Skills without the Scary Title of Etude.” One of the challenges of teaching music is finding repertoire that serves a technical purpose and that is also musically engaging. For piano teachers, Chopin’s Preludes Op. 28 satisfies both of these criteria. Selected by peer review for the West Virginia Music Teachers Association 2012 Conference held at Shepherd University, Barnhart presented a session discussing and performing select preludes, drawing on her experience from performing the entire set. The focus of the project was the technical benefits of each prelude and suggestions for practice methods. Each attendee was provided with a handout packet containing a table of difficulty grading of all preludes, a table of technical skills found in the preludes, a table of primary technical elements for each prelude, an annotated bibliography of helpful literature concerning Op. 28, as well as a discography of recordings that Barnhart personally recommended.



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.