A portrait by Western Carolina University student Michael Dodson Jr. of the late Josefina Niggli has won first prize in a competition sponsored by the Josefina Niggli Celebration Committee and the Fine Art Museum.
Dodson, a junior majoring in fine art with a concentration in sculpture, netted a $500 purchase award from the College of Fine and Performing Arts. His portrait becomes part of the college’s permanent collection and will be installed in the lobby of Niggli Theatre.
Niggli was an author, actress and beloved WCU drama instructor. Her work is enjoying a revival of late, and the university is honoring her with a yearlong series of events.
Dodson’s large-scale, mixed-media work features Niggli’s portrait in black-and-white oil paint over pages from Niggli’s book of short stories “Mexican Village.”
The five-member committee of WCU faculty and staff that selected Dodson winner “was quite taken with his work,” said Martin DeWitt, museum director and a member of the selection committee.
“We were very excited to see he’d taken the initiative to search out the ‘Mexican Village’ text,” DeWitt said. “It served to make the piece historically connected.”
Dodson bought the book in a fourth edition on eBay. “I read the first four stories, and then I was running out of time so I cut it up,” he said. Dodson decided against removing a ladybug ensnared in the polyurethane coat he’d applied during the portrait’s creation. Instead, he left the bug where it landed on the portrait’s frame “for good luck,” Dodson said.
Dodson is the son of Michael and Elizabeth Dodson of Raleigh and the husband of Sara Cabe Dodson, a student in the fish and wildlife management technology program at Haywood Community College. He plans to graduate in May 2011 and would like to earn a master’s degree in fine art with a goal of one day teaching or having a working studio.
Mike Polomik, a graduate student in fine art, and Traci Pierce, a fine art undergraduate, earned second and third places respectively in the competition, each winning a digital camera.
Winners were announced April 7 during a joint reception for exhibits of the Niggli portraits and work from the Art Students’ League juried show. Media in the latter ranged from website design to large-scale sculpture to conceptual environmental pieces as well as ceramics, painting and photographs. Dodson’s “Twelve Steps and Everything In Between,” a mixed-media sculpture, won best of show for three-dimensional work in the ASL show; Kelsey Tweed won best of show for two-dimensional work for “…Was Here,” a high dynamic range photograph.
Both student exhibits remain on display at the Fine Art Museum through May 5. The Niggli portraits are hanging in Gallery 130, adjacent to the Fine Art Museum’s Star Lobby. The ASL works are in galleries within the Fine Art Museum.
Fine Art Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays and university holidays. For more information, contact DeWitt at 828-227-2553 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Niggli and the university’s recognition of her at niggli.wcu.edu.
2010 Art Students’ League juried show awards
- Best of show, two-dimension, “…Was Here,” a high dynamic range photograph by Kelsey Tweed ($150)
- Best of show, three-dimension, “Twelve Steps and Everything In Between,” mixed-media sculpture by Michael Dodson Jr. ($150)
- Best ceramic, “Horse,” stoneware by Traci Pierce ($100)
- Honorable mention ceramic, “Pitcher Set” by Hannah Goodson ($25)
- Best sculpture/installation, “Where We Hide Our Conscience” by Ian Ward and Mitchell Metz ($100)
- Honorable mention sculpture, “She Never Regretted Her Choice” by Tina Cady ($25)
- Best drawing/printmaking, “Torso,” charcoal by Maria Thomas ($100)
- Honorable mention drawing/printmaking, “Backstreet,” etching by Lauren Hill ($25)
- Best painting, “Universal Language, Ruby Necklace, Solar Drip” by Rachel Griffin ($100)
- Honorable mention painting, “Time Is of the Essence” by Lisa Erato ($25)
- Best photography, “Adventures after Dark” by Keisha Scionti ($100)
- Honorable mention photography, “Sarah” by Kimberly Ashe ($25)
- Best design, “I Like My Coffee Digital” by Briana Randle ($100)
- Honorable mention design, “World of Rhinos,” website by Daniel Burch ($25)
Other ASL awards
- “From My Kitchen,” oil painting by Samantha Davis, purchase award of $150 from the dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts, with the work becoming part of the CFPA permanent collection
- “Deforestation,” conceptual piece by Mitchell Metz and Ian Ward, $250 award from the Office of the Chancellor
- “Triptych,” oil painting by Rachel Griffin, $180 purchase award from the A.K. Hinds University Center; “Landscape,” oil painting by Kenneth Ryan, $100 purchase award from the A.K. Hinds University Center
- “Adventures after Dark,” photograph by Keisha Scionti, $150 Service Learning purchase award
- “Ice House Interior,” photograph by Kelsey Tweed, and “Yellow Observations,” digital photograph by Sarah Bonner, both received a Jonathan Williams Award, for artists who “break the mold,” award amount not available
- “Regular Unleaded,” mixed-media sculpture by Brooke Mercier, $100 Ron Camp Award, given in memory of a former student
- Traci Pierce and Kelsey Eller, $50 each from Highwater Clays