During the last few days of classes and in the midst of preparing for final exams last semester, senior Kristin Smith carved out the time to take on a new artistic medium. By all measures, her first foray into the world of watercolors was a resounding success. Smith's effort won a campus art contest that landed her artwork on the cover of the College's Charter Day program.
"It was kind of experimental but I figured I might as well go for it and see what happened. I think it turned out pretty nice," Smith said about her first watercolor.
The contest was announced in the art and art history department around Thanksgiving. A little over a half-dozen students participated. Contestants were required to create a two-dimensional rendering, in color, of the Wren Building or another historical site on campus. The pieces were due by the last day of classes before winter semester finals.
"I decided to participate in the contest because it seemed like a really good opportunity. The winning piece would be purchased by the President's Collection which is quite an honor," said Smith.
"It means a lot," added Art and Art History Professor Nicole McCormick, about having a piece in a permanent collection. "For the rest of your career you can list it on your CV. It's a prestigious collection to be in."
The contest was the brainchild of McCormick and Lucinda Baker, director of the college's publications department. The 2007 Charter Day program featured the artwork of an alumna who worked in the publications department. The artwork was so well received it sparked the idea for the contest.
"Last year's cover was really successful, people loved it. I thought it would be really great if we continued that and started a tradition," said Baker.
Smith chose a campus icon for her subject, Lord Botetourt.
Submissions were judged by a three-member committee comprising Baker, McCormick and Elizabeth Meade, also an assistant professor of art and art history.
"The level of artwork that was submitted was very high quality," said McCormick.
Smith, committee members said, was the unanimous winner.
"We looked at the entries as a group and individually," added McCormick. "The others were good but it was just so blatantly obvious they weren't the kind of piece that would be best presented on the cover of a program."
"I don't know if I went about it thinking I was designing a cover so much as at the end I was like, ‘wow, this looks like a cover,'" Smith said about her design. "I'm satisfied it turned out that way."
Smith noted winning the contest has been a thrill.
"Charter Day is the really important day for the College. It's really exciting to have designed the cover for that publication on this really special day," she said.
The contest committee hopes to make this competition an annual event.
"I hope they do continue the contest," said Smith. "I think it is an incentive for people to try things out and maybe other kids will get interested in design and stuff like that. I think the aspect of competition pushes people a little more. I think having designed the cover of a publication – that's also something I've never done and that's something exciting."