About the prize: 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.
Our 2022 Jurors:
- Miranda Lash, Ellen Bruss Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
- Simone Krug, Curator, Aspen Art Museum
Shloka Dhar — First Prize
"Genetic Memory," Indian women’s clothing, thread, play sand, poly-fil; 12 ft x 8 ft x 4 ft
Genetic memory is the scientific theory that memories can become incorporated into the genome over time, and passed down to an offspring. Thus, memories are present at birth without any previous sensory interactions. This has been bolstered by emerging research. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance discusses how a traumatic event in an ancestor’s lifetime can alter the brain and behavior of subsequent generations. Neurons quickly break both strands of the DNA helix in multiple locations to provide access to memory storage genes, particularly synaptic genes. In this way, ancestral memories and experiences work to protect the offspring from birth. In this piece, I explored my genetic memory. Using clothing sourced from Indian women who are close to me, including my mother, I attached the pieces much like neurons attach to each other. The clothing was varied in the size and age of the woman it belonged to, with some children’s clothing as well. I created a patchwork quilt, something that has a history of being passed down generations. By filling it with play sand and stuffing, I referenced childhood memories. The form took on a single neuronal cell, attempting to form connections with other neurons that are not within reach. The dendrites reach out to receive signals from other neurons that will never come. They are turning black, undergoing degradation from their interactions with lifeless materials.
"Preserve," Indian women’s clothing, wood, nails, Yakisugi technique; 2 ft x 4 ft x 1 ft
Yakisugi is a Japanese wood burning technique utilized for its preservative qualities. The carbohydrate component of the wood is burned away, preventing bugs and fungi from metabolizing it. I used this technique to create a traditional plant press, used for drying specimens under pressure. In an effort to preserve my connections to my culture, I placed Indian women’s clothing in the press, to protect from bugs and other harm. While we try to preserve things and keep them safe, we might end up suffocating or damaging those things. The squeezing of the material and the transfer of charcoal is evidence of this.
Xiaoxiao Strong — Second Prize
"Hopium," paper, food coloring, crochet thread, 9'x14'x4'
“Meet Me on The Bridge'', tells the miracle story of a young Chinese adoptee who is reunited with her family on the Broken Bridge in Hangzhou, China. A heartwarming and inspiring cinematic creation, it’s difficult to not fall for the dream that this might happen for me someday. Though I know reunions are few and far between, I still continue to revisit the film, addicted to the hope it gives me, fearful of what I could lose if hope becomes lost. Hopium, a floating, impassable bridge of over 700 individually hung paper mooncakes suspended by red threads, is an ode to the connection to my birth family; a connection I'm trying to find, foster, hold onto and maintain. While hope is the thing that keeps us going, it’s almost always rooted in difficult times. As a result, Hopium seeks to make sense of the complicated past, present and future components that contribute to my identity as a Chinese adoptee.
"Introductions," photos, bamboo rod, muslin, cotton cording, sponge, 76"x26"x24"
“Dishu” (地書), the traditional Chinese practice of earth writing, first appeared in Beijing, China at the beginning of the 1990’s. Quickly spreading throughout the country, ephemeral ground calligraphy has become a popular pastime for elders and calligraphy fanatics alike. With a brush constructed of everyday materials such as bottles, sponges, poles and string, earth writers take to parks and streets composing messages of self accomplishment and improvement out of evaporating water. Captured through various images, Introductions, attempts to utilize the art of Dishu to spark a line of communication with my birth family whom I know nothing about and haven't seen or heard from since the time of my birth. Taking the verbiage and stylization of the commonplace name tag, I introduce myself in the same way strangers might interact for the first time. Although a far cry from an opportunity to meet face-to-face, I view this gesture as a starting point for what could be a long and arduous journey to find my blood relatives.
"(un)lucky," Paper, chipboard, wood table and chairs, 28"x64"x42"
China’s One Child Policy, implemented between 1980 and 2015, only brought to light the problematic value systems that have been in place for centuries. The long standing preference for males over females has created a host of repercussions that have become detrimental to the country’s once thriving and prosperous population. While the desire for girls has slightly increased since the program was lifted, this is mainly out of desperation to restore gender imbalances rather than respect, as men still hold a patriarchal position within society. This “conversation starter” deck seeks to explore the manipulative ways in which propaganda utilizes words to form particular beliefs or perceptions. By inverting degrading elements of Chinese culture that capitalize on gendered fortune, cultural biases are confronted in an honest and empowering, yet brutally sarcastic manner. Know the pressures. Know the demands. Know your place. Draw a card and discover your fate.
Olivia Bode — Third Prize
Depersonalization, 2021, Stainless steel, fabric, thread, beads, yarn (5'x2'x6')
A divorce from self, Depersonalization serves as an embodiment of the layers of separation that have occurred in my body after experiencing sexual assult. It attempts to capture the moments in which I have felt disconnected from my own body--an outsider looking in; an invader inhabiting an unknown shell—logically understanding that it must be and is my body, but not feeling as if it is. This sentiment is amplified by another layer of separation: the further estrangement of my sexualized body parts. Strung up to the wall, they are connected to the body only by stretched fabric: a visual manifestation of the internal tension my body is constantly under. The rigid metal structure, providing my form with stability, represents the logic of understanding my body is my own, while the instability is represented by the soft undulations of stuffed fabric and embroidery chaotically arranged within. Soft velvets, delicate lace, and ruffles reference what is expected of women: chaos contained into a dainty figure. The vibrant reds and pinks suggest a vulnerable, visceral, anatomical figure, vaguely referencing organs but not quite. This edge of understanding—the blur between fact and fiction, rationality and irrationality, self and body—is what my piece leaves the audience with.
"Infection," 2022, Grandmother clock, insulation foam, acrylic paint, beads, resin (7'x6'x2')
A representation of the ways in which my perception of time has been influenced by sexual trauma, Infect exposes not only the reliving of traumatic moments, but the time dilation that occurs during these relivings. The grandmother clock–feminine in nature–has its clock removed, cemented in a timeless space. Infected by the traumatic experience, the vessel lies lifeless and vulnerable on the floor: thousands of delicate red, pink, fleshy beads eat away and spill from its interior in organic, organ-like forms. Four looming metronomes stand above, representing the rapists from which my trauma stems. Their experience of time is linear, unaffected, continuously ticking in tandem, a contrast to the death of time captured by the clock. Their ticks are repetitive, symbolic of the statistic likelihood to repeat the violence.
"Inaccessible," 2021, Studs, construction fencing, stainless steel, concrete, rocks, photographs, 10'x7'x7
Referencing gentrification through the building process and beyond, Inaccessible exposes the nuanced ways in which hostile architecture manifests itself in the everyday. The main structure not only resembles typical gentrification architecture—homogenous, plain, and disconnected from the social context in which it exists—but also calls to developing construction, a time in which empty unused housing is blocked off from homeless individuals who could use the shelter. In a gallery setting, this piece challenges who has access to the inside and outside of these spaces architecturally. With semi-opaque sheeting, the gallery audience is kept from the internal space of the structure visually and physically. Moving outwards, layers of construction fencing, rocks, and cement spikes obstruct the viewer from interacting with this inside space. When faced with these layers of inaccessibility and hostility, viewers are forced to contemplate the insidious nature of the urban architecture that surrounds them. The seemingly normal cityscapes captured in the photos allow space for this contemplation.
Aviana Eder — Finalist
Pleiades; Media: Gouache on Bristol, Fabric, Acrylic; Dimensions: 10x10in. in when closed, 10x60in. when fully opened
This is an interactive art book. The book illustrates a re-telling of the Greek myth of the Seven Sisters of Pleiades. It is a constellation in the sky near Orion and Taurus, throughout the book there are several star motifs and constellations which appear and went into the construction. The book is story-driven, it is a thank you to the women in my life who have been role models, friends, inspirations, and sources of empowerment. I have been very blessed to know some incredible women in my life who have helped me feel accepted as I am, but also helped me out of a really dark time in my life. When I could not see a light, my friends were the ones who sat with me in the dark. Overall the story conveys how we rise by lifting others. I wanted the book to have a similar sense of joy that they brought to me, and hopefully bring a smile to anyone who gets to engage with it. The book is accordion-style and folds out from a diamond shape and has a few moving elements incorporated as well as hidden art pieces to make for a more engaging experience and to bring the story to life!
Documenting thoughts and exploring what community means, two of the past residents of the 1211 artist community house recount some of the feelings and events which shaped our collective time at the 1211 community house. Working with a mix of different medium, both digital and traditional, I had hoped to make this feel as real and authentic as my time at 1211, and to do justice to the words of the artists. I utilized a mix of rotoscope, digital, and stop motion animation in order to depict the feelings in a non-linear, but still cohesive way. The colors are meant to be representative of the emotions and journeys of those depicted. Some of the most important shots of the stop motion involve objects numbering either eight, twelve, or eleven for the number of people who lived within the house. The backgrounds of those stop motions were hand-painted with acrylic. The digital art pieces were based off of the pictures we took during our time together, and give some scope to the strangeness that was both the house and its residents. I believe everyone has a 1211 which shapes them in ways they never expect. This is a reminder of what was beautiful about those exquisite ends.
This is an animatic based off a dream I had a while back when I used to walk to work. It is the third sequence in a series of five interwoven segments of dreams I have had over the past couple of years. The backgrounds were painted traditionally in acrylic and each was digitally painted on in a digital art program called FireAlpaca which were then synthesized into the final animatic in adobe premiere and mixed to music and sound. A cadejo is a creature from South American myth. They are dog-like mythos who can either help or harm travelers. They are drawn to and feed off the positive or negative emotions of the lost traveler. There is typically a white or black cadejo who will guide the traveler home or devour them or else get them completely lost forever. Most often the white cadejo is the one who helps and the black cadejo is the one who devours. But sometimes, the roles are reversed; it is never clear to the traveler whether the cadejo at hand can be trusted or not.
Eve Hamilton-Kruger — Finalist
“A Patch of Myself”, Screen print on Fabric, Quilted, 18” x 18”
With the fragmented memories of my upbringing, I feel that as an adult I am patched together, similar to a quilt, created with whatever was available at the time. I can no longer remember who I once was, but I am very much trying to understand who I am now in the present. Using a variation of the eight-pointed star quilt pattern and fabric scraps from my late grandmother, I document my search for self-understanding while seeking guidance in this quilt patch. By quilting together these moments from my past, it reflects the relationships I value most in my life, those who have shaped who I am, even if I can’t remember. Reflecting my upbringing, I have no one to search for guidance from except myself. In this work, I am the one patching these pieces and memories together, forming what will one day be a completed patchwork reflection of myself. I only have myself to not only figure out who I am in the present but appreciate that person.
“Preserving a Memory”, Relief on Kozo, 10” x 12”
For “Preserving a Memory” I began to think about the moments I feel nostalgic and the accompanying conflicting emotions. Since adulthood, I have realized how much trouble I have remembering my childhood memories and a difficulty understanding my current self since I can’t remember my past self. On the rare occasion I feel nostalgic, I can’t seem to remember the particular memory or event that is triggering the feeling. Instead, I feel this odd reminiscence of a past I realize I can no longer remember as if that part of me that no longer exists. Over time, I developed the habit of collecting mementos that help me remember specific moments and events that I don’t want to forget over time like I have the rest of my life. A common placeholder of my memories lies in my growing collection of rocks, each one tied to a specific person, place, or event. I began this collection innocently, seeing nice rocks and taking them home as a keepsake, but it has now grown into something more than that. I can remember the moments attached to each one, without losing the details of the memory over the years. So, I am hoping that as this collection continues to grow and be filled with unforgettable memories that when I feel nostalgic I can actually associate a memory with the feeling. In this piece, I have depicted a landscape from my recent road trip to the Grand Canyon with my brother and father. On this trip, I collected two sandstone rocks that are jam-packed with perfect memories of the trip, seen at the bottom of the print. Depicted together, the moment and rocks represent their connection with my effort to preserve my memories through my collection of mementos, in this case, rocks.
"A Guiding Hand", Reductive Relief on Masa, Screen print, 11.5" x 12"
In this recent work, I have been considering the symbols I use from quilting as an overarching theme in my work. More specifically, the eight-pointed star motif is a symbol of guidance in quilting patterns, its significance originating from homesteaders traveling West and using the stars for navigation. As I have been documenting my search for self-understanding in my work, I have been considering what and/or who I am seeking guidance from. For the majority of my life, I lacked people, whether that be friends, family, or significant others, that formed a support system. Instead, I was left without any real form of emotional support and fended for myself when it came to personal growth and any individual problems I endured. For the longest time, I have been alone in this way even though I provide that same support for others. So now, when making work about my search for self-understanding and seeking guidance, I realize that the only person I seek guidance from is myself and have never experienced this sort of support. In this relief piece, I attempt to depict this feeling of being my own support system. How I crave a guiding hand to support me but have to seek guidance from myself rather than someone or something else. The needles are pointed outwards and within, showing the struggle I have with myself to better understand and appreciate myself, but being unable to do so on my own.
A Grix — First Prize
"Poporo III, IV, V," Ceramic, Glaze, Plastic, Metal, Paper, Paint, Varying Dimensions (Tallest object 4' 2")
"Poporo IX (Charcoal for Naomi)," Ceramic, Glaze, Polystyrene Foam, Paper Pulp, Graphite, Charcoal, India Ink, 1' x 2' x 4.5'
"Poporo IIX," 1' x 2' 3" x 4' 11"
Materials: Ceramic, Polystyrene Foam, Aztec Gold Glaze, Paper Pulp, Terracotta Clay from Richmond VA, Corrales Azafran Petals,
Marcella Marsella — Second Prize
"I Remember When You Pointed A Shotgun At Me." Fabric, holograms, phosphorescent thread, satin binding, shotgun shells. 80 x 99"
This is a memory quilt I made over the course of the past two months. It describes a traumatic experience I had with intimate partner violence. It reads: "I remember when you pointed a shotgun at me and laughed. I remember I didn't know if it was loaded."
"I Remember Nowhere," fabric, holograms, phosphorescent thread, satin binding, vinyl, 58 x 72"
This is a memory quilt I made in November and December of 2021. It describes a traumatic experience I had during a three year abusive relationship. It reads: "I remember when you left me at a bus station in the middle of nowhere with no money and no phone."
"I Remember When You Made Me," assorted fabrics, satin binding, slashed clothing, vinyl & my great grandmother's pillow, 58 x 72"
This is a memory quilt I made in November and December of 2021. It describes a traumatic experience I had with a violent man. It reads: "I remember when you made me sleep overnight on the Ben Franklin Parkway. I was awakened at dawn by some nice people handing out donuts to the homeless. I remember the night before when you threw me into a fence. I remember the reverberation of the sound the chain links made when my body hit them."
Alli Lemon — Third Prize
"The Growing Mystery," chalk pastel, collage and graphite on paper, 38" x 50" (Detail)
"The Growing Mystery" depicts amorphous beings growing towards space. This is the first in a series of vague landscapes in which I am attempting to depict the feeling of being unsure, of unknowing.
"Bedside: 1922, 2022." Installation. Floor: 48"x48"
I am constantly struck by the similarities between the 1920s and the 2020s. I have always been attracted to the aesthetics of the 1920s, from art deco to surrealism. I pulled from those visual references to create this bedside vignette. The bedside is an intimate space, comforting. That is also what surrealism did for its initiators after WWI and what it does for me in the present. By disrupting logic, we're able to create our own rules and find some small bit of control in a chaos.
"A Part Apart," Installation, wall size: 28' x 13'
I always hope my work looks like it would be in a group show with itself versus being done by the same artist. In "A Part Apart" that sensibility is on full display. Each object is its own work, but is also a necessary part of the whole. They function like organs of the body, separate but reliant on one another. Like shopping at a thrift store, I hope the view comes to this installation without expectations, and is instead able to relish in the visual treasure hunt.
Erin Hyunhee Kang — Finalist
Irrigation Study, Mixed Media, 30”x 30
In this particular piece, I built a space that symbolizes motherhood that requires a new circulation of body after reproduction, and affirmation of love and sacrifice for the family. This piece is especially important for me because my marginal space became an inclusive space for not only myself but also for my family. It is through a reconceptualization of space as mother and through the analogy of birth, that I can reach this inclusive space.
"When I met him for the first time," Mixed Media, 30”x30”
I created an inclusive space where love, trust, and common goals were shared and respected for the first time in my life.
"The Mother Land," Mixed Media, 48”x36
I created a place where I hoped to bridge the generational gap by building my own home on top of a painted interpretation of my mother’s world. I tried to reflect my love and respect for my mother who was also a painter, disregarding all the differences we might have by building a home right on top of my fading memories of her beautiful Korean paintings that she created when I was a child. I repeatedly exfoliated and layered prints of my digitally designed homes on top of a fragmented memory of my mother as if I was becoming my mother’s skin for tomorrow. By using the exfoliating process, I re-lived the bonding that I once shared with my mother every night in the bath tub, gently rubbing, scrubbing, and peeling away the daily dirt/guilt/decay/sin together as the healing ritual of the day and in expectation of a brighter tomorrow. It is my language of love for her.
King Award Jurors 2022
Miranda Lash is the Ellen Bruss Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Lash has organized a wide range of exhibitions including Jason Moran: Bathing the Room with Blues; Keltie Ferris: *O*P*E*N*; BRUCE CONNER: FOREVER AND EVER (co-curated with Dean Otto); the traveling retrospective Mel Chin: Rematch; Camille Henrot: Cities of Ys; Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms; and Swoon: Thalassa. In 2017 Lash and Trevor Schoonmaker co-organized the acclaimed exhibition Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art. From 2008 to 2014 Lash was the founding curator of modern and contemporary art at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Many of her projects seek to embrace regional complexity with a vibrant range of public programs and thoughtful intersections with local communities.
Lash currently serves as Vice President on the board of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She has been a Clark Fellow at the Clark Art Institute, a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and a member of the artistic director’s council for the international triennial Prospect New Orleans. She holds a BA with honors from Harvard University in the History of Art and Architecture and an MA from Williams College.
Simone Krug has been a curator at the Aspen Art Museum since 2018. Most recently, she was part of the curatorial team on the major museum-wide exhibition Andy Warhol: Lifetimes. Prior to joining the AAM she worked at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles and has held numerous positions at museums including the New Museum, the Whitney, and SFMOMA, among other institutions. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, Frieze, Art in America, and many other publications.