Virtual Art Sale 2.0 and the visual artist award winners

Detail photos of three pieces of artwork by NC State student winners of the 2021 Visual Artist Awards

2021 Arts NC State Visual Artist Award winners (L-R): “A Dream of You” by Martina Gonzalez Bertello, “Beaming Belltower” by Abby Lewis, steel and cedar planter box by Connor Gary. Links to the full images are available in the text.

For the second year – thanks to the pandemic – the annual Arts NC State Student Art Sale was conducted with a virtual gallery.

Arts NC State has been purchasing original artwork of NC State students each spring since 2001, with permanent collection pieces on display throughout Talley Student Union and selected locations on campus. Six years ago, the sale expanded to a public event, a one-day pop-up gallery open to art buyers from campus and the community. All proceeds from the sale go directly to the student artists.

In March 2020, NC State students and employees were sent home only one month before the scheduled date of the annual art sale. With a quick pivot, the annual sales gallery in Talley Student Union shifted to an online model, and 35 student artists learned how to be become entrepreneurs by creating individual sales sites on platforms like Etsy.

With the university operating in a hybrid model throughout the 2020-21 academic year, the spring 2021 art sale was again conducted online, this year attracting 48 student artists. The sale opened on April 16 and remains open indefinitely with links to the online student galleries. The second virtual year brought an uptick in sales, with over $12,000 (to date) in proceeds going to the student artists. NC State students from nine colleges participated. As usual, the largest representation was from the College of Design, but the College of Engineering was second with nine students taking part.

Amy Sawyers-Williams, Arts NC State’s manager of outreach and engagement, is tentatively looking forward to a hybrid model in spring 2022, with the return of the energy of a live, in-person sale in Talley combined with online sites where student artists can sell their work to people who cannot make it to the campus event.

“I was thrilled to see more students enter the sale this year compared to last year and share their creative talent with the NC State and wider community,” says Sawyers-Williams. “Forty-eight students gained experience in learning how to sell their artwork and sold work to buyers locally and across the country. We look forward to offering more professional development opportunities to our student artists throughout the year leading up to next year’s sale.”

Visual Artist Awards

In 2017, Arts NC State received a generous gift to create a visual artist award for the annual sale, to recognize NC State students for their outstanding work in the visual arts. In subsequent years, award categories were added, and are now available in three areas, for 2D, 3D, and computer-rendered art or photography. The selected NC State student artists each receive a $500 cash prize, their pieces receive prominent display in Talley Student Union during the following academic year, and they are honored at an annual arts award ceremony. This award is made possible by the Roxanne Hicklin Visual Artist Award Endowment.

Jennifer Dasal, curator of modern and contemporary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art and host of the independent podcast ArtCurious, served as the visual artist award judge for the 2021 sale.

Three NC State students were selected as recipients of the 2021 Visual Artist Awards.

headshot photo of NC State student Connor Gary

Connor Gary is the 2021 visual artist award in 3D art for his steel and cedar planter box. A junior in psychology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Gary built his first piece of furniture shortly after the pandemic began. Needing something to do, and more importantly a bed frame, he built one out of wood from Lowe’s. Realizing how much fun that was and understanding he had no idea what he was doing, he started drawing more things to build. The winning planter box was the first piece of furniture that he ever designed and built. The steel part is MIG welded steel tubing, and the wooden part is rough cedar pickets finished with polyurethane. Gary began working at the woodshop in the Crafts Center to further educate himself on “how to make things the right way.”

headshot photo of NC State student Martina Gonzalez Bertello

Martina Gonzalez Bertello is the 2021 visual artist award in digital art for her photograph titled “A Dream of You.” She graduated in May 2021 with a degree in environmental technology and management from the College of Natural Resources and is heading to UNC-Chapel Hill to pursue a Master of Science degree in environmental engineering. Gonzalez Bertello has had her Canon DSLR camera since high school but only recently got serious about photography; she likes to highlight the surreal in ordinary settings. She highly recommends taking photography workshops at the NC State Crafts Center.

headshot photo of NC State student Abby Lewis

Abby Lewis, a junior in science, technology and society in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is the winner of the 2021 award in 2D art for her linocut print titled “Beaming Belltower.” Lewis draws inspiration for her work from the marvels of the natural world. Linoleum block carving holds a special place in her heart because it is a skill learned from her sibling, a painter and sculptor working in San Francisco. Lewis works at the Makerspace in D.H. Hill Jr. Library and enjoys helping others find creative outlets through working with textiles and technology.

The Student Art Sale juror awarded honorable mentions to the following entries:

Veena Akka” by Shilpa Kancharla
Back study by Shilpa Kancharla

Circular vase by Charlotte Sleeper
Gulliver” by Angel Hernandez

Digital art/Photography
Noodle Boy” by Grayson Morrow
Picking Fresh” by Sabrina Hurtado
Pink Palace of Dhaka” by Aamna Salim