Celebration of the artist

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at 9:31 AM

Edinboro’s senior art students will compete for the opportunity of an academic lifetime.

Marking its 10th year, “Celebrate the Artist: The Michael V Gmitter Memorial Art Scholarship” is set to once again establish an environment for young artists to grow and further hone their craft.

“The whole purpose of the scholarship is to create an opportunity for the art students to have a solo show and present it in a professional way,” said Cappy Counard, the co-organizer of the Gmitter scholarship and a professor of jewelry and metalsmithing. 

The scholarship was named after the late Michael V Gmitter, who majored in metalsmithing, in addition to doing graphic, clothing and jewelry design work at Edinboro.

The history of the scholarship dates back to his time at Edinboro, when Gmitter applied for and won the “Eclectic Etceteras Coffee House Scholarship”, named for and provided by a coffee shop formerly located in Edinboro. According to Counard, “It was such a turning point [for him].”

The following summer, Gmitter passed away. In memory of the Edinboro alumnus, his mother and father, Jan and Rich Gmitter, began to make contributions to the scholarship. However, eight months after Michael passed, Rich also passed. 

According to Jan Gmitter’s website, the scholarship serves as a way to honor both her son and her husband: “When we lost Rich, the scholarship fund that he and I had started in memory of our most beloved son, also became a way to remember Rich.”

Eventually, the “Etceteras” scholarship transformed into this scholarship, serving the dual purpose of honoring Michael Gmitter and continuing a tradition of art. “This art scholarship was established at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania as a memorial to Michael, not only to honor and cherish his memory, but also to encourage the same commitment and passion to art that Michael demonstrated during his life,” said Jan Gmitter.

In order to encourage artists’ commitment, the process of applying for the scholarship is two-fold. 

Any senior art student, from any of the 12 disciplines offered at Edinboro, can apply for the scholarship by submitting three pieces of art for the consideration of a panel of Edinboro professors. The panel this year consisted of computer animation professor Karabo Legwaila, illustration professor Michelle Vitali and art history professor Dr. Charlotte Wellman.

The panel took applications until December of 2018. Judging the artists solely on the quality of their art, they look to narrow down the applicants to 12-15 finalists. As a result, according to Counard, the early part of the application process is “really competitive.”

This semester, the panel selected 15 finalists (listed below). Since December, the finalists have been creating art for their “solo” shows, and will, on March 10, mount their exhibitions in their own section of the Bruce Gallery, located in Doucette Hall. For this portion of judging, the artists will be evaluated to see if they have the “whole package,” which includes their artist statement, art pieces, labels and how professional their set-up looks. 

In past years, the same panel judged both portions of the process. However, for the first time in its 10-year history, a new panel will judge the final student exhibitions. 

This second panel will feature Edinboro alumni Kevin and Rachel Spall. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, they graduated from EU in 1990, Kevin with a degree in applied media arts/graphic design and Rachel with a degree in art education.

Even when the field is narrowed, the two jurors on the panel will have a difficult decision to make: “It’s a tricky thing to do,” said Counard. “When you’re comparing the best of graphic design, to the best of cinema, to the best of metals or painting, it’s like apples to oranges sometimes.”

On the other hand, having organized the event for 10 years, Counard found that assembling a group of the best young creative minds on campus makes for a fulfilling experience for the artists and viewers alike. “It’s really great to have a show that really showcases some of the best work being made in the art department,” she said.

The scholarship exhibition, and announcement of the winner(s), will be on March 20.

Stay tuned to future issues of The Spectator for further coverage of this scholarship.

Nathan Brennan | ae.spectator@gmail.com

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