April 24, 2007

Single winner captures Rickert-Ziebold contest

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For the first time in more than 30 years, a single winner captured the annual $20,000 Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award Competition at Southern Illinois University Carbondale's School of Art and Design.

Sarah Vaughn, a senior from Olney, was stunned when she heard on Monday, April 23, that her kiln-fired glass wall sculpture, "The Moment of Choice," was the sole winner. Vaughn said the $20,000 prize would "make a lot of things possible for me now." Namely, she said, she will be able to pursue a career as an artist without the immediate need to find alternate employment.

Professor Edward Shay, chairman of the trust award competition committee, said faculty were also surprised by the vote. "This is the biggest thing to happen with this award in 30 years," he said.

The competition, which carries one of the largest awards of its type in the country, is open to seniors ready to graduate from SIUC's School of Art and Design. Each aspiring artist fills a set amount of space in the school's Surplus Gallery with what Shay described as "the very best art they can produce at this early stage of their careers." There are no restrictions on mediums. Faculty votes, cast in secret, determine the winner. Shay said many faculty members never reveal for whom they voted.

The first year of the competition, rules specified a single winner. However, the mix of mediums made choosing a clear winner so difficult the committee amended the rules to allow more than one winner and to divide the award money among them. Shay said committee members look for the first significant break in numbers of votes to determine how many winners there will be in a given year. Typically, there are four or five winners. Twice, judges selected 10 winners. Twice, only two were named. This year, Vaughn's piece commanded "a very clear" lead.

Vaughn described her piece as a "snapshot of my thoughts and feelings to share with the world … a visual representation of when I became aware that I was allowing my fears to control my life and consume everything. This is a moment when I saw that I had a choice."

The wall sculpture stretches from floor to ceiling and bends itself through a corner onto the next wall. It is a flowing piece of thin, textured glass resembling veins or nerve endings or an infinity of options.

The next stop for the piece is the Third Degree Glass Factory gallery in St. Louis, where Vaughn and several of her classmates and fellow glass artists will participate a three-week exhibit beginning May 18. Joining Vaughn in the exhibit are SIUC seniors and Rickert-Ziebold Award finalists Joshua DeWall, Andrew Hesed and Brian Engel and SIUC MFA student Mark Salisbury.

The Rickert-Ziebold award was endowed by the estate of the late Marguerite L. Rickert-Ziebold in honor of the Joseph Rickert family. Joseph Rickert was a prominent lawyer and state senator from Waterloo.

"The Moment of Choice," along with all the other art in the 2007 Rickert-Ziebold competition, remains on display at the Surplus Gallery in the Glove Factory at 432 S. Washington St. in Carbondale for the rest of the week. A reception is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27, with the presentation of the award at 6:30 p.m.


Caption Below


Sarah Vaughn

Caption 1: Moment of disbelief – Friends congratulate Sarah Vaughn after hearing the announcement that she is the sole winner in this year’s Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award Competition at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Art and Design. Vaughn, a senior from Olney, captured the top prize with her kiln-fired glass wall sculpture, “The Moment of Choice.”

Photos by Steve Buhman