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Golden Bears celebrate creativity (and Carter Hall) in student art competition

Student art competition winners pose for a photo with Dean Stephen Brown.Students Mackenzie Sloan (L) and Bianca Adrienne R. Cabradilla stand with Dr. Stephen W. Brown, dean of the College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences at WVU Tech.
On Tuesday, April 23, local artists and art instructors gathered in a small room in Carter Hall to celebrate and judge artistic works. The pieces – all created by WVU Tech students – were submitted as part of a semester-long art competition that culminated in the day’s event.
In the room were nine different renderings of WVU Tech’s iconic Carter Hall, each of which bore the unique marks of their makers.
Professor Brent Woodard teaches art in the Department of History, English, & Creative Arts at WVU Tech. He organized the project and said almost 60 students submitted their work over the last year.
These nine were the semi-finalists, sharing their work with the world at large.
“It's the best kind of confidence builder. There's nothing like creating something, be it art, literature, music, etc., and be able to have the opportunity to showcase it to peers, pros and newcomers alike,” said Woodard.
Woodard said that the art community at WVU Tech is growing and that events like this prove the creative potential of the university’s students.
“It's a positive work in progress, he said.
“There is a history of world-renowned art coming from artists with technical training; MC Escher, for example. I'm proud that, every semester, I get a new opportunity to meet students with no art background and see them become the artistic 'diamond in the rough' they didn't know they could be.” 
The day’s diamond turned out to be first-place winner Mackenzie Sloan, whose colorful rendition of the building captured the judges’ interest and the $500 tuition waiver grand prize.
At second was Bianca Adrienne Cabradilla with Kaitlyn M. Lilly landing third place. Students Maeghan Ellison, Emily Boyd, Casey Hambrick, Amy Sizemore, Hannah Argabright and Anthony Takumi Veltre earned honorable mentions for their work.
Alecia Barbour, Ph.D., assistant professor of music at WVU Tech, worked with Woodard to put together the competition.
She said she was proud to see so much support for the project.
“We have a wonderful community of people at WVU Tech who are invested in supporting student creative expression in a variety of ways,” she said.
She shared that the event grew out of a simple idea – challenge students to create an artistic representation of WVU Tech’s iconic Carter Hall. The project was launched in one of Woodard’s courses and, in the two semesters since, has grown.
“We have some phenomenally talented and creative students, she said.
“Creative expression is a fundamentally valuable component of the human experience. I also believe that there are many ways for students to showcase their ‘art,’ whether it be in their entrepreneurship, athleticism, designs, experiments, coding, or other creative or scholarly endeavors.”
The competition relied on a panel of judges from the local arts community, including former Woodrow Wilson High School teacher, Rebecca Doman; Quincy Potasnik, artist at The Tiny Sparrow; Ridgeview Elementary School art teacher, Kimberly Sexton; and Stephen Brightwell (photographer), Cailin Howe (museums exhibits director) and Darren Husband (touring exhibits, museums graphic artist) from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History.
“There is a strong interest in art in the city, through education as well as exhibition, said Woodard.
“Having WVU Tech as not only part of this growing community, but as one of the potential spearheads moving forward, is too good an opportunity to pass up. The more people and professionals know about it, the faster it can grow.”
The department plans to maintain and expand the competition in future years, allowing more opportunities for students to flex their creativity.
“I hope that events of this nature, along with courses and other opportunities, will support the continued growth and enrichment of a creative and fine arts community here at WVU Tech,” said Barbour.