About the King Awards

In 2013, Gretchen King worked with the Department of Art and Art History to establish the King Competition and Exhibition, the department's first juried student exhibition. Since that time fellow alums, Meridee Moore (BA in Philosophy ‘80) and Kevin King (BFA in Fine Arts ‘81) have generously supported the annual competition and exhibition allowing the department to award undergraduate and graduate students monetary prizes and showcase their work in the Visual Arts Complex. 

All awards are based on artistic merit.

  • $3000 for first place Grad and Undergrad
  • $2500 for second place Grad and Undergrad
  • $2000 for third place Grad and Undergrad

An exhibition of award winning artwork will be on display in the Visual Arts Complex, Lower Level from April 5-11, 2021

The King Award 2021 Jurors

Beatriz Cortez

Beatriz Cortez (b. 1970, San Salvador, El Salvador; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA in Art from the California Institute of the Arts and a Ph.D. in Literature and Cultural Studies from Arizona State University. Cortez’s work explores simultaneity, life in different temporalities and different versions of modernity, particularly in relation to memory and loss in the aftermath of war and the experience of migration, and in relation to imagining possible futures. She has had solo exhibitions at the Craft Contemporary Museum, Los Angeles (2019); Clockshop, Los Angeles (2018); Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles (2016), among others. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2019); Ballroom Marfa, TX (2019); Tina Kim Gallery, New York (2018); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017), and many others. She teaches in the Department of Central American Studies at California State University, Northridge. Beatriz Cortez is represented by Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles.

Melissa Barba

Melissa Barba is an independent art consultant and curator. For the past seven years, she served as the Assistant Director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, where she oversaw development, museum education and community outreach, grant writing and multidisciplinary curatorial projects, among other things. Prior to her time at the Rubin, Melissa worked at the El Paso Museum of Art as the Education Curator, and also for the Ysleta Independent School District as the Visual Arts Instructional Specialist and Gallery Curator. Some of the committee’s she served on includes, El Paso Museum and Cultural Affairs Department’s Public Arts Committee, the El Paso Community Foundation’s Cultural Education Committee and the El Paso Museum of Arts Education Advisory Board. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Incarnate Word, and a teaching certification in Art Education and an M.A. in Art History with a Concentration in Contemporary Mexican Art from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Sommer Browning

Sommer Browning is an author, curator, and artist living in Denver. Her books include two collections of poetry Backup Singers and Either Way I'm Celebrating (Birds, LLC), as well as the artist book, The Circle Book (Cuneiform Press), the joke book You're On My Period (Counterpath), and others. In 2017, she founded GEORGIA, an art space in her garage in Denver. Her poetry, art writing, and visual art has appeared in Hyperallergic, Bomb, jubilat, Chicago Review, Entropy, and elsewhere. She is an Associate Professor at the Auraria Library at the University of Colorado Denver.

First Place

Eileen Roscina
MFA, Film

"On the Tip of My Tongue"

Using Encyclopedia Britannica Archival Footage this film tests the limits of the human brains bandwidth and ability to recall. Is access to quick information causing our memory to atrophy? What is the impact of technology on our ability to form knowledge?

Artist Statement: Disconnection from the environment fuels the myth that we are the most important entity on the planet. My creative practice challenges this fallacy by examining what nature can teach us about being human. I use pressed flowers, willow, mycelium, mirror and alternative film methods to raise the potential of realizing a radically different world where people, spirit and nature are irrevocably intertwined. My art practice often relies on spending hundreds of hours gathering materials in the wilderness that I use to make biotic material sculptures and experimental films. By manipulating celluloid film and hand-collected organic materials in concert with specialized industrial optics, I propose a radical re-evaluation of the natural world, our connection to it, and to one another. My artwork draws from observation of ecological forms and processes; animal architecture, the unexpected and often dramatic beauty in the smallest of cellular processes and the magic of decay. I aim to encourage an internal dialog, and inspire a greater awareness on the benefits from connecting with nature.

Xiaoxiao Strong
BFA, Sculpture & Post Studio Practice


Artist Statement: Intrigued by the anthropological approach of making the familiar, unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar, familiar, I attempt to incorporate these concepts in my work by utilizing people’s current perceptions and understandings of the world to challenge and recreate their future ones. Living day-to-day, it is natural to start taking the environment and the objects around you for granted. By confronting the “givens” of life through subtle interventions/performances with a dash of humor and absurdity, I hope to offer a different way of viewing the monotonous and mundane while also speaking to certain causes or experiences.

Second Place

Amy Hoagland
MFA, Sculpture & Post Studio Practice

Amy Hoagland"Reflections on the Future," Tree stumps, etched mirrors, projection, 2020, Scale Variable

This work was created as a response to the two largest fires in Boulder County’s history burning in the fall of 2020. The reflections of tree rings collapse temporal space and express time alternatively to human measurements. Tree rings are catalogues of an area’s climate; through them we can decipher records of growth, wet and dry seasons, and the age of the tree. A burn scar signifies a forest fire the tree survived. Visitors are positioned within the installation; their bodies will be reflected along with the trees, embedded in the problem.

Artist Statement: I create sculptural installations to challenge the varying relationships that humans have with nature. These relationships are cultivated by cultural perceptions that view nature as isolated from human existence. I appropriate natural forms, such as rocks and icebergs, by skewing their scales in digital spaces. This process inherently produces tensions in the translation from analog to digital and then back to analog. Technology is utilized as a tool to connect the natural and manufactured world. Materials such as glass, iron, and cast paper are vehicles for my concept. These installations provoke engagement and action through connecting people to their senses, body, and mind.

Shloka Dhar
BFA, Sculpture & Post Studio Practice

Shokla Dhar

"Living Wall," wood, paper towels, chia seeds, twine, 3.5 ft x 2 ft

“Living Wall” explores the paradigm of repurposing materials to facilitate the new life of an organism. I used reclaimed wood, an organism that used to be alive in the form of a tree, to create two abstract branch-like structures. Various pieces of wood were sanded down to create natural grooves in the material, and then fastened together with wood glue. The surface was coated with a slight wood stain. I used a metal rod to bridge the gap between them, and used biodegradable twine to fasten the living organism onto the piece. The living organisms I grew were chia sprouts, grown into a paper towel substrate. They were grown in repurposed plastic tubs for 5 days with no sunlight, and sprayed with water to keep the paper towel moist. Once they had sufficiently sprouted, they were moved to a sunlight-rich environment. The contrast between the natural materials and the steel rod emphasizes the way that humans could, even with many technological advancements, relearn to live symbiotically with the planet, as they were meant to do, instead of depleting its natural resources.

Artist Statement: My work is inseparable from intersectionality and is interdependent and interdisciplinary. Any foray into land art or the use of natural materials is aligned and immersed with issues of conservation, climate change, and environmental racism. Any expedition into my personal identity considers ideas of marginalization, assimilation, and cultural repression. My additional studies in Molecular Biology enable me to connect microscopic details to the larger scale, while understanding my social responsibility as an artist in my local community. Much of my work centers around the land in my community, and intends to highlight observable and identifiable climate change to others. Our connection to our land has been commodified and violated, and confronting these realities shape my current work.

Third Place

Emily Van Loan
MFA, Film

"keep this list with you in case you need to use it"


Emily Van Loan is an experimental filmmaker and artist. They create diaristic, autobiographical works with the intention of fostering connections between audience and maker or perhaps within an audience.

Maren Curtis
BA, Painting & Drawing, Printmaking


Poise and Grace, 2020, acrylic paint pens, 8.5" by 11"

This drawing was meant to be a humorous approach to the expectations of women being beautiful and polite and never just themselves. Going to the bathroom lacks any and all class. There is nothing less ladylike than a portrait of a young girl sitting on a toilet with an empty bottle in front her passed out against the wall.

Artist Statement: I am fascinated by the individuality of human perception and how differently people experience their emotions. I make art for myself as a form of therapy and an examination of my own condition, but on the rare occasion, a piece I make deeply connects with someone else in a way than I ever intended. Instead of a diary that no one reads, my art serves as a public visual journal that others can hopefully connect to.

King Award Finalists

Alejandra Abad | Cali M. Banks | Dalton Frizzell | Emily Irvin | Marcella Marsella | Robert Martin (Buehler)

Olivia Bode | Anne Feller | Sam Ottlinghaus | Dilara Miller | Daisy Caxton Smith | Claire  Stufflebeam