Student artists awarded with cash and recognitions at 2016 Student Purchase Award reception

Vu Chau

The University Union Art Gallery hosted a casual ceremony Thursday night to celebrate the 41st annual Student Purchase Awards competition and to give out prizes to four Sacramento State student artists whose entries have shown to be the best of the best from the exhibition.

At the ceremony, cash prizes were given to three “Best of Show” awards in addition to the highest honor of the night — the Purchase Award.

According to Rebecca Voorhees, the Design, Identity and Studio manager of the University Union, 30 pieces were submitted to be featured in the exhibition. After two judges, who are not affiliated with Sac State, looked over every submission, 22 pieces were chosen for award considerations.

Senior graphic design major Evan Purdy won the $50 third prize for his charcoal piece titled “Memories.” Abygail Hernandez, senior Spanish and marketing double major, won the $75 second prize with her ink-fingerprinting piece titled “Dylan,” while Lonla Dee Chan, senior studio arts major, won the $100 first prize for his large-scale charcoal piece titled “Apsara.”

Junior studio arts major Celina Gonzalez won the Purchase Award with her plaster sculpture titled “Olmec Head.”

“I’m still taking it in because I didn’t think I was going to win,” Gonzalez said. “My piece is not what you see on TV today because how I created it was by looking at things you see on the ground. It’s different, so that’s why I think the judges liked it.”

By winning the award, Gonzalez’s sculpture was purchased by the Union for $250 and the art piece will be added to the center’s permanent art collection.

The biggest attraction of the night was Chan’s first prize-winning charcoal piece that shows a semi-profile portrait of an “apsara,” a female dancing figure well-known in the Hindu and Cambodian mythology.

Chan said he is Cambodian, and that being able to show others his cultural background was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“I didn’t expect [to win first prize], to be honest,” Chan said of the night’s results. “Considering this is my first time entering an art competition on campus, I just didn’t expect it to be such a good experience overall.”

For first-time applicant Hernandez, she was also surprised with the results.

“I really enjoy unconventional ways of making art,” Hernandez said. “Plus, there were some other amazing pieces, so it was really an honor to know that my piece was recognized.”

For Gonzalez, she said she will miss the “Olmec Head” sculpture now that the piece is under the ownership of the Union.

“I think that it’s pretty amazing to know that people who walk through the [Union] will be able to see an art piece I made that I generally just keep in my house,” Gonzalez said. “So that alone just makes me really happy.”