Students show off their skills for ‘Stratosphere’


Illustration by LaQuann Dawson

Erin Zaranec

Calling all artists! The College of the Arts is hosting a juried art competition in conjunction with The School of Art.  

The competition, “Stratosphere,” will be accepting entries from Feb. 1 through Feb. 28. The theme is “Art and the Body,” meaning that all art pieces should reflect the body in some way. 

“We encourage all types of art  — both 2-D and 3-D. We are also hoping to receive some submissions of photography, textile art and digital art,” said Effie Tsengas, the director of communication and marketing for the College of the Arts. 

Dr. Scott Scherer, an associate professor of art at the University of Texas at San Antonio, is the guest juror for the “Stratosphere” competition. After the Feb. 28 deadline, he will review all pieces submitted and reveal the top 25 finalists. These 25 pieces will serve as “The Strat” exhibition at the Downtown Gallery on East Main St. The exhibition will run April 14-23. 

Once the top 25 are on display, the public can head to the Downtown Gallery and vote for their favorite piece to be awarded the people’s choice award. Winners will be announced April 24 at a reception and awards ceremony. 

A Best in Show winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize. A first runner up and the winner of the people’s choice category will each win $500, and a second runner up will receive $250. 

The prize money, provided by the College of the Arts, stems from the “Fee for Free” funds that all undergraduate students pay each semester. These fees are used to give back to our campus and help make the arts more approachable and accessible for everyone, not just art students. 

“All full-time undergraduates, from communications to business to nursing — everyone [is] encouraged to submit something,” Tsengas said. “Really, I say to the students, what do you have to lose?”

Students are also encouraged to head down to the Downtown Gallery and view and vote for the work of their fellow students.

Submissions are free of charge and each student can submit three pieces of their choice. All submissions require a submissions form and a JPEG file of the work they are submitting. Submission forms can be found on the College of the Arts website. 

More information, as well as pop-up prizes for submitting entries, will be announced via the College of the Arts Twitter account, @artsatKSU. By following the account, students can win prizes just for mentioning the College. 

The Stratosphere competition is new to Kent State this year, but the dean of the College of the Arts is planning to host the Strat annually from now on. 

“You won’t know if you can win, unless you submit something!” Tsengas said. 

Even if you aren’t an art major or have never taken an art class in your life, feel free to show off your talent for a chance at great cash prizes and recognition.

Contact Erin Zaranec at [email protected].