By Christianna Lewis
The Big Country Art Association Competition intimidated many students, but it didn’t keep them from participating – or winning.
Last year, judges awarded first, second and third place to art professors, not students, although the contest is open to anyone in the Big Country. So, when Isaac Castillo, junior fine arts major from Pleasanton, got a call from the BCAA treasurer, he said he thought she was just asking him to pick up his rejected work.
Instead, he was informed his sculpture, an untitled abstract made from plaster, milk jugs and balloons, had won third place.
“I wondered if anyone was interested in looking at this,” Castillo said, beaming, “As it turns out, I guess they were.”
Rolando Diaz, a well-known artist and 1979 ACU graduate, chose the entries for the show, which included several by ACU students, said Dan McGregor, assistant professor of art and outgoing president of the BCAA.
Diaz then selected three Best in Show winners from the paintings, photographs and sculptures. Each of the winners received cash prizes, and the BCAA honored themÂ at a reception during ArtWalk on Saturday.
Castillo was out of town during the ceremony; he said he would receive his $100 check in the mail.
Several other ACU art students have been recognized in other shows. Corbin Cawyer, senior fine arts major from Colleyville, won first place in the sculpture category in the Center for Contemporary Arts’ second Intercollegiate Student Art Competition.
Exhibit organizers accepted a number of art pieces from ACU students, although the competition was open to all Abilene colleges, Cawyer said.
Cawyer received a $100 prize for his bronze sculpture at the awards ceremony Thursday.
These competitions are more than an opportunity for art students to earn a little cash, said Geoff Broderick, professor of art.
Art shows offer exposure to rising artists – vital to a professional career in art – and affirm students’ belief in their ability, he said.
Winning a Best in Show award at his first art competition outside ACU certainly got rid of Castillo’s anxiety, Castillo said. He is already planning to submit his work to several art shows in the spring.
“It’s hard to imagine making any money with art,” he said. “Something like this really builds your confidence. It’s like I could actually be a real artist.”
Students can see winning artwork from all the colleges at the Center for Contemporary Arts at 22 Cypress St. through Dec. 30. The BCAA competition’s entries are also on display at ACU’s Cockerell Gallery at 1133 N. 2nd St. through Dec. 4.