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A painting done by a WPI student for an art contest.

An untitled painting by Alexandra Meraz ’21, which was an honorable mention in the Visual Arts category in the “The Arts and Creativity in the Time of COVID” contest.

Arts & Sciences Week Showcases Contest Winners

Twelve winners announced, including grand prize winner Camryn Berry ’21

October 7, 2020
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Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of a four-part series focused on the third annual Arts & Sciences Week, a celebration of the talents of the WPI community. 

Part 3: Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic through art

In the summer of 2020, the School of Arts & Sciences issued a call for the WPI community to submit art projects for “The Arts and Creativity in the time of COVID.”

Recognizing that artists respond to, reflect upon, and ultimately shape the world, the contest aimed to highlight work showcasing how differently people process and navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. It also invited WPI community members to share their own experiences during the pandemic, noting that they're often communal, shared, and public. Participants were asked to submit work that addressed numerous themes and experiences that can be felt during the times of COVID, including “Community in Isolation,” “Communication in a Virtual World,” “Identity, Agency, and Optimism in a Pandemic,” and “Empathy in Challenging Times,” among others.

From musical performances to the written word, and from welding to painting, 48 members of the WPI community entered submissions. Six judges (Erica Mason ’96, artist and WPI trustee; Sergio Salvatore ’02, pianist/composer, and director of technology for Steinway & Sons; Elaine McKenna-Yeaw, executive director of Worcester Center for Crafts; Jennifer deWinter, professor and director of the Interactive Media and Game Development (IMGD); Kate McIntyre, assistant professor of Humanities and Arts (HUA), and Kate Moncrief, HUA department head) considered each piece and decided upon the final winners.

On Monday, Moncrief announced the contest winners and runners-up.

"This contest, which was launched in the early months of the pandemic, was imagined as a way to provide space for and to nurture creativity while we were all at home,” she says. “The submissions not only affirm the abundance of talent we have in our community, and but also show the power of art to record our experiences, give voice to our emotions, and tell our stories during this challenging time."

1Berry1.jpg

"Connecting...," the contest-winning piece by Camryn Berry '21.  alt
"Connecting...," the contest-winning piece by Camryn Berry '21.

Camryn Berry ’21, a biomedical engineering major, won the grand prize of $1,000 for her multimedia piece, “Connecting …”, which addressed the theme of “Communication in a Virtual World.” Berry, who has been drawing her entire life, and who prefers working with charcoal, says this was her first multimedia piece, which “demanded this sort of mishmash of style, color, and personality to reflect how disoriented this unexpected time has made me feel. The portrait is in graphite, pen, Prismacolor, and colored paper. There’s even a paint chip hidden in there.”

The idea for her piece came from her return from her Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) in Israel in C-Term, where she never spent a minute alone, to an entirely remote D-Term. She says her art shows a snapshot of how she felt during quarantine: “isolated, but with a heart open and longing for the connections I think we all desire.”

“‘Connecting…’ was inspired by loneliness, which I feel is a truly human emotion, something most of us can relate to and yet not many of us want to admit to,” Berry says. “If there’s anything to be taken away from this piece, it’s to be honest with those emotions, both with yourself and with others. I depicted seven billion participants on the Zoom call in “Connecting…” to serve as a reminder to myself that, although I was physically alone, I wasn’t going through isolation alone.”

To give the entire WPI community an opportunity to view all the contest winners, runners-up, and submissions, deWinter and a team of IMGD students (Mikel Matticoli ’21, a computer science and IMGD double major; Diana Kumykova ’21, a computer science and IMGD double major; Drew James ’24, a computer science and IMGD double major; and Benjamin Cronin ’24, a computer science major) created an interactive virtual gallery. The gallery, which was unveiled on Tuesday, will be available for viewing until Dec. 31, 2020.

"We're excited to showcase a digital version of all of the great artwork submitted by the community," deWinter says. "Not only will the interactive gallery enable viewers to get an immersive experience of the art itself situated virtually on the WPI campus, but also of the emotion and perspective of each artist as they navigated the beginning phases of the pandemic. A special thanks to Drew, Mikel, and Diana for giving this gallery life."

Winners and runners-up in each category:

2020 Lingo Art Submission, My garden withstands the storms"

Craft-based:

Winner, $500: Elizabeth Long Lingo, assistant professor in the Foisie Business School
Title: “My garden withstands the storms” 
Medium: welding
Theme: Identity, Agency, and Optimism in a Pandemic

Creative Writing

Winner, $500: Nasim Mansuri ’21, chemical engineering and professional writing double major
Title: “Company”
Medium: poetry
Theme: Alone Together

Honorable mention, $250: Karen Sharp, director of academic advancement, Division of University Advancement
Title: “Other Voices”
Medium: poetry
Theme: Ourselves in the World

Performance

Winner, $500: Ali Saeed ’22, IMGD major
Title: “Fly Away”
Medium: music
Theme: Community in Isolation

Honorable mention, $250: SloGrass, a musical group featuring David DiBiasio, professor of chemical engineering, alumnus Fran McConville B.S. ’76, M.S. ’87, and Mark Davis and Bob Dick.
Title: “Bossa Dorado”
Medium: music
Theme: Human Connection in a Virtual World

Visual Arts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winner, $500: Hannah Miller ’22, IMGD major
Title: “Quarantine”
Medium: digital drawing
Theme: Home

 

 

Winner, $500: Patricia Bergmann, senior executive administrator of the School of Arts & Sciences
Title “Dreaming”
Medium: Painting
Theme: Caretaking, Home and Ourselves in the World

Honorable mention, $250: Cynthia Woehrle, administrative assistant IV, Division of University Advancement
Title: “Airport Hill Triptych”
Medium: Painting
Theme: Before, During, and After

 

 

Honorable mention, $250: Alexandra Meraz ’21, electrical and computer engineering major
Title: Untitled
Medium: Painting
Theme: Identity, Agency, and Optimism in a Pandemic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable mention, $250: Natalie Milgram ’21, IMGD major
Title: Untitled
Medium: Painting
Theme: Before, During, and After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable mention, $250: Abigail Rauch ’24, computer science major
Title: Untitled
Medium: Painting
Theme: Empathy in Challenging Times

 

 

 

 


Coming later this week: A story on WPI’s latest Critical Conversation forum, “Social Justice at WPI: Technology in the Public Interest,” exploring the concept of Public Interest Technology, and how it applies to the WPI community and to the greater push for social justice.

—Jessica Messier