Newnan's White earns top honors at Valdosta State art competition

by Staff Reports


Submitted Photo

Allison White of Newnan won first place in Valdosta State University’s recent student art show.

Editor's Note: Allison White is a native of Newnan attending college at Valdosta State University. She graduated from East Coweta High School in 2009.

VALDOSTA — Allison M. White, 21, captured the top prize in the 15th Annual Juried Valdosta State University Student Art Competition. She did it with a just-go-with-it attitude, a little know-how, a low-cost plastic camera, and an extremely cooperative roommate.

“I thought there was no hope of me winning,” said the Newnan native who won first place with a giclée — a fine art digital print made on an inkjet printer — of a black and white photograph of a nude female in a wooded area. She used a Holga 120CFN and Kodak Professional T-Max Film to capture the image.

“I could not understand,” she continued, “how anyone was going to judge a painting versus a photograph versus a piece of sculpture.”

Typically in art competitions, White added, the best works in each category receive awards, with an overall Best in Show. The VSU competition was different; it was an all-media event with one winner, three runners-up, and five honorable mentions.

“I stood there for a few seconds after my name was called,” she said. “I just could not believe it. In class, I always admire the work of other students and wish that I could do ‘this’ like one student or ‘that’ like another student. They are all so talented. You know, this was something I needed; I needed the boost that came with winning this competition to get through the final year of this program, to let me know that I am on the right track.”

White will be a fifth-year senior at the start of the 2013-2014 academic year. But that is not unusual for a student pursing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Department of Art. The professional degree program is rather comprehensive; requires students to take classes in everything from painting to sculpture, drawing to photography, ceramics to printmaking; and demands students develop the sensitivities, concepts, skills, and knowledge essential to the professional life of an artist. She spends what little bit of downtime she has perfecting her craft and enhancing her physical fitness. She was a cheerleader in high school and can still do a few flips, jumps, and tricks.

When White graduated from East Coweta High School in 2009, she believed that her art future was in painting. However, one class with Dominick Gheesling, an assistant professor of art specializing in photography, changed all that. She described him as her guru and said that she was captivated by his enthusiasm for the subject matter, as well as his brilliance.

“I was drawn to photography,” said the daughter of Bryan and Renee White. “I like that it is a recorded moment in time; you have it forever and, for whatever reason, thought it was special enough to capture for a lifetime.” 

White prefers nude models when working with human subjects. She joked that only those willing to pose sans clothing at some point are eligible to be her friend. That is how she met her roommate.

When asked if she had ever posed nude for a piece of art, she laughed and said, “No. Nobody’s asked me.” Then she recalled allowing a friend to mold her torso for one of his sculpture classes.

“I didn’t hesitate at all when I told him I would do it,” she added.

Julie Bowland, VSU Fine Arts Gallery director, noted that 77 students entered 205 pieces of artwork in the spring 2013 competition. This year’s competition judge, Alan MacTaggart, chairman and professor of art and humanities at Georgia Regents University, selected 107 works created by 57 students to be featured in the exhibit, which runs through Friday, April 5, and is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.

White had three photographs selected for the competition.

“There is some beautiful work to be sure,” said Bowland, VSU Department of Art professor. “It is a strong showing, mostly representative of what is happening in the art department, but there are some pieces from outside the art department as well. The works are diverse, well-crafted, and thoughtful from very talented students.”

The annual Juried VSU Student Art Competition is open to all registered Valdosta State students, regardless of their major. Students are allowed to enter a maximum of five pieces of original two-dimensional and three-dimensional work, including graphic design, illustration, interior design, animation, drawing, printmaking, mixed media, painting, aqueous media, jewelry, photography, ceramics, and sculpture.

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