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Three Portland State MFA students win Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prizes
Author: College of the Arts
Posted: June 30, 2014

Jea Alford, Katie Holden and Pam Minty, three students in Portland State University’s Master of Fine Arts program, are the winners of the 2014 Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prizes.

PSU’s School of Art + Design created the Schnitzer Prize in 2013 with a gift from the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation to help raise awareness of the quality of art education at PSU. Fifty-five students competed for this year’s prizes, and a panel of faculty and community representatives chose the winners.

Alford was selected as the first-place winner and will receive a $5,500 cash prize, Holden will receive the $4,000 second-place prize, and Minty will receive the $3,000 third-place prize.

An exhibition featuring the work of Alford, Holden and Minty will be held Oct. 6-Oct. 31 in PSU’s Autzen Gallery, with an opening reception for the public and award presentation from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6.  

Alford’s drawings, cut-outs (above) and performances reflect a high degree of skill while sensitively and effectively engaging pressing contemporary issues. Jurors praised her concern for social and economic justice and her ability to communicate her intentions. They concluded that Alford is an artist with much to say and a rapidly developing artistic and conceptual voice of her own. 

Holden’s work (left) straddles boundaries between two-dimensional, sculptural and time-based media. Her work is energetic and embedded in current cultural and technological developments. Holden’s submissions show exuberance and experimentation, and the jurors were excited by the promise of her ideas and the work she is creating.

Thanks to an additional contribution from the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, the jury was able to make a third-place award this year to Minty. Her exploration of familiar landscapes and family connections to those landscapes through photography (below) and film are sophisticated and elegant, showing a maturity and craft that suggest strong, compelling work to come.

Winners were selected by a jury that included PSU School of Art + Design faculty Pat Boas, Erik Geschke, and Lis Charman, as well as community representatives including Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson from the Portland Art Museum; 

Sarah Meigs, art collector and founder of the Lumber Room; Duane King of Huge/KingCoyle; and Theo Downes-Le Guin of Upfor Gallery.

The School of Art + Design is part of PSU’s College of the Arts, which also includes the School of Architecture, School of Music and School of Theatre and Film. The College offers some of the fastest-growing programs at PSU, including architecture, film and graphic design. More than 2,800 PSU students major in arts programs, including more than 1,200 in the School of Art + Design.