A set of ceramic “fuel containers” by Heather Whittlesey was named “best in show” for the 2015 Biorenewables Art Competition, held in the Biorenewables Research Laboratory (BRL) on the Iowa State University campus. “‘Almost Antique’ is a humorous statement about how we store household fuels today,” Whittlesey wrote in her statement to accompany the piece.
The work, which includes ceramic representations of a propane tank, gas can, and hand torch, won $750 for Whittlesey, a graduate student in art and design at Iowa State. Her work becomes part of the BRL’s permanent art collection.
Other winners were Sarah Reagan for “Fricken’ Fracking Box,” a wooden piece that earned her first place and $350; Riley Eveleth for “Homage to Aaron Fink,” a collage that won second place and $250; and Madison Haws for “We Often Forget,” a mixed media piece that took third place and $150.
The jurors also gave honorable mention to Alyssa Campbell for “Horse and Snapping Turtle Skulls with Flowers,” a charcoal drawing; and Nicholas A. Martinez, for “Maus Redefined,” a stoneware piece. Although not prize winners, the jurors thought these two pieces merited special recognition.
Reflecting the Bioeconomy Institute’s Mission
The competition was open to Iowa State students enrolled in Integrated Studio Arts/Integrated Visual Arts ( ISA/IVA) courses. The goal of the event is to create artwork that reflects the Bioeconomy Institute’s mission, which is economic, environmental and social sustainability to advance development of biorenewable resources for the production of materials, fuels, energy, and chemicals. The prizes are sponsored by Robert C. Brown, BEI director.
Jurors for the 2015 competition were Sara Merritt, Mary Holze, and Patrick Johnston. Merritt is a educational specialist at Iowa State University’s Reiman Gardens and is vice president of the Ames Community Arts Council. She has an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Holtze is an adjunct art professor at Des Moines Area Community College, where she teaches fundamentals in drawing and life drawing. She has also teaches adult drawing classes at the Des Moines Art Center.
Holtze has a B.S./Medical Technology degree from the University of Iowa and a BFA and an MFA/Integrated Visual Arts from Iowa State University. Johnston is a research scientist at the Bioeconomy Institute (BEI), with 15 years of experience in research and development of biorenewable products. He’s currently working on his Ph.D. at Iowa State.