2016 Stratosphere art competition returns with an environment theme

Holly Disch

The Stratosphere juried art competition, created three years ago by the Dean of the College of the Arts, John Crawford-Spinelli is intended to involve and give back to all the students of Kent State with an environment theme for 2016.

“You don’t have to be an artist, it is more about your message, just conveying an idea,” said Effie Tsengas, the Communications and Marketing Director for the College of the Arts.

Students feel it is a great way to showcase students’ talent no matter the major. The competition sends the message to create and express more of your artistic abilities.

“I think the competition is fair, in that all majors can participate,” said Morgan Mervenne, a sophomore fashion merchandising major.

Bénja Gladden, a junior fashion merchandising major agreed.

“I think this competition is a great way to bring multiple communities and majors within the campus together,” said Gladden.

Carrie Esser, a freshman entrepreneurship major submitted work for the first time. Her submission is a photograph of a body paint design she created herself. The design represents the negative effects of humans on the environment.

“I submitted my design because I thought it was a good opportunity to be creative and stretch my imagination,” Esser said. “I think the competition will allow everyone to see how much artistic talent there is in Kent State University.”

The themes for the past two competitions have been different, and the plan is to continue that tradition.

The dean’s student advisory council picks the theme. It is purposely vague so the artists have a chance to express the art in their own way.

“People can interpret it in different ways,” Crawford-Spinelli said. “With the theme of environment I would think it would have a lot of interesting work that comes in.”

The limit of submissions is three per person. According to Tsengas there have been about 40 submissions to be judged by Alenka Banco, Executive Director of the Cleveland Arts Prize. Eventually 25 of the submissions will be shown at Kent’s downtown gallery.

“She (Banco) is an artist in Cleveland, she has been doing that (Executive Director) since 2013 and has been a trustee for that organization,” Crawford-Spinelli said.

The ability to have such an impressive juror and cash prizes is due to Kent’s tuition. It is a way for Crawford-Spinelli to give back to the students. There is an additional $15 arts fee for students. It gives access to all art events like theater, ballet, art exhibits and many more. The dean also gives back in other ways, including a festival every year during the fall semester.

The Stratosphere competition has cash prizes for four different titles. The cash prizes are for Best in Show, First Runner Up, Second Runner Up and People’s Choice. Best in Show receives $1,000, First Runner Up recieves $500, Second Runner Up receives $250 and People’s Choice also receives $500.

The People’s Choice is a favorite of the dean and Tsengas because of the ability to rally friends and family to see displayed art and vote on their favorite.

“We want to encourage people to come see the show and vote for their favorite,” Crawford-Spinelli said.

According to Crawford-Spinelli, the most common pieces of art are painting, print making and drawing. With the wide variety of majors ranging from psychology to business, there is sure to be different expressions of art.

“The juror is an arts advocate, so she will be thrilled to see a nice cross section of students backgrounds participating too,” Tsengas said. “She is a great person who could potentially open a door for someone in the arts.”

 The first year of the competition choreography that played as a video in the gallery, won Best in Show. This past year, a large, 3D sculpture won. The theme is what is important to the juror, not the type of art.

 “As long as your idea somehow ties into the environment, it’s something that will be considered,” Tsengas said.

The dean and Tsengas are excited to see what the students create and bring forward in the competition.

Use a Kent State University Banner ID, and visit the College of the Art’s website to submit artwork. Submissions are due Friday by midnight.

Holly Disch is the visual arts reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]