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2010 News Releases
Longwood student among winners in statewide art competition
April 16, 2010
Longwood University senior Ciarra Wickizer-Stalker was one of three winners in a statewide art competition sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA).
In the competition, "Insights: College Student Symposium," undergraduate and graduate students from public and private Virginia colleges and universities submitted portfolios of studio art that were reviewed April 9 by three professional artists, each of whom selected a best portfolio. Wickizer-Stalker's portfolio of 10 photographs was judged the best by Sayaka Suzuki, a professional artist and adjunct professor in Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Craft/Material Studies.
One of the photos from Stalker's portfolio is on the VMFA web site about the symposium.
"This was a free opportunity to have your portfolio reviewed by a contemporary professional artist, with the slight chance you might be chosen 'Best Of' and featured on the VMFA web site," said Stalker, an art major with a photography concentration. "For the review, you could show no more than 10 pieces - in my case, photos. These are conceptual photos, and by that I mean they aren't just pretty pictures."
The digital color photos, all taken locally in the past two years, are from the portfolio that Stalker submitted for her Senior Professional Project, required of all senior art majors. The project is titled "Fem-phoma."
"I made up the word, which is a disease of influence, of the things that influence young women and the decisions they make," she said. In a statement that accompanies the portfolio, she wrote, "This series is a sociological study through photographs. These photos inquire what motivates young women's choices. I have used the formal qualities of the photographic frame to divide each image such that they convey a sense of tension. In some of the photos, that tension is between individuals and sometimes the images convey a sense of internal conflict-anxiety.
"I have photographed females between the ages of 12 and 21," the statement continues. "This time span between girl and woman is a very vulnerable period. It is a time of self-discovery and growth. The intricacies of the female psyche are very easy to overlook, and the moments and behaviors captured in these photos give the viewer a glimpse inside that psyche."
An ongoing blog project by Stalker is devoted to Fem-phoma. Three of the images are part of the current 2010 Art Department Senior Exhibition that is on display at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts through May 8.
Stalker does commercial photography, much of it portrait photography (visit her web site). She uses a Canon DSLR camera. Asked how long she's been interested in photography, she said "Forever."
"After graduating, I'll keep doing my conceptual (photographic) work but will also keep doing my commercial work, so I can make money," she said.
Her photography instructor and adviser is Anna Cox, associate professor of art. "Anna's classes have really opened doors to new ideas," Stalker said. "She shows us photographers who are really inspirational. My biggest inspiration is Lauren Greenfield (widely considered one of the best chroniclers of youth culture). Anna told me about her after noticing that my work is similar to hers. My peers in the photography program also are a huge inspiration. This year's students are really talented."
Stalker (whose first name is pronounced "Sierra"), who will graduate May 8, is a native and current resident of Farmville. She is a graduate of Buckingham County High School and is the daughter of Melissa and Daniel Wickizer Jr. of Farmville, and her husband is Karl Stalker III. Longwood's Human Resources director, Della Wickizer, is her great-aunt.
The symposium, held at VMFA's Pauley Center, also included components for art history and creative writing. The studio art component until this year was held in conjunction with the VMFA's annual College Night in the fall.
"We moved it to the spring because we wanted a visual arts component in addition to an art history component and a creative writing component," said Celeste Fetta, VMFA's manager of adult and higher education, who coordinates the program. "Students can bring any type of studio art; it doesn't have to be photography. It's 20 minutes of one-on-one review, and it's totally free. The 'Best Of' recognition is not for one particular work but for each of those students' body of work."
Stalker learned of the symposium from Anna Cox, who urged her students to participate. Another Longwood senior photography major, Erica Hopson, also participated. The other winners in the studio art competition were Zack Concepcion, a VCU junior, and Jessica Miller, a VCU graduate student, both of whom also submitted photography.