April 14, 2015

Three student artists share Rickert-Ziebold award

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Three artists will share the 2015 Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

This year’s winners are: Marie DeWerff (Bloomington), Eunji Lee (Yangsan-Si, South Korea) and B. Rael Ali (Chicago). The three split a $15,000 cash award. 

Lee said she came to SIU because of the reputation of the glass program. Formerly a 2-D artist, she has not only become proficient in art-glass, but she is now incorporating glass into her 2-D to make it multi-dimensional. Her entry focused on perceptions and angles. 

Lee plans to attend graduate school after finishing at SIU this May. She has been accepted by her two top picks, and now has time to make the decision about where to go. She said she’s looking forward to telling her mother the good news about winning the School of Art and Design’s most prestigious award. 

Ali may be from Chicago, but he’s no stranger to Carbondale. He used a REACH undergraduate research award to explore community art and what elements are important to different communities in Carbondale. He used what he learned to create his entry – a quartet of large charcoal and watercolor paintings. 

“I’m glad I came to SIU because being here – the community, the faculty, the resources – have made me the person I am now,” he said. He noted that besides the undergraduate research opportunities, for which he studied with Associate Professor Najjar Abdul-Musawwir, he had the opportunity to work in a university gallery. The experience, as well as the chance to pursue his particular interests with expert faculty, will help him professionally, he said. He plans to continue his art with graduate school as well. 

DeWerff, whose multi-piece collection of whimsical metal creations that are part toy, part art, was unable to be present at the winners’ announcement. 

The Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award exhibit features work from all 11 finalists, and it runs through Saturday at the Surplus Gallery in the Old Glove Factory (432 S. Washington Ave.). Weekdays the gallery is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. On Saturday, it will be open 10 a.m.-noon. A reception for the winners is 5:30-7:30 p.m. on April 17, with an awards presentation at 6:30 p.m. 

Mark Pease, chairman of the Rickert-Ziebold committee and assistant professor of digital media, said this year’s competition left faculty judges stunned by the overall quality. 

“I’ve seen a lot of these competitions and the looks on the faces of the judges after they saw the entries was one of amazement,” he said. “People who come to see this exhibit are going to see amazing work.”

The annual Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award honors the late Joseph Rickert, a prominent lawyer and former state senator from Waterloo, who loved the arts and appreciated SIUC’s place in the cultural life of the Southern Illinois region. His family established the award in 1974, and it is the most prestigious award offered by the School of Art and Design.