Gmitter scholarship awarded: ceramics artist Tyler Podomik named winner by panel

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 at 7:59 PM
Gmitter scholarship awarded: ceramics artist Tyler Podomik named winner by panel by Erica Burkholder
Photos: Nathan Brennan

Bruce Gallery is packed. Visitors avoid bumping into each other and, of course, the delicate art that’s placed around the room. And they’re gathered here for a purpose. To award young artists for their work, as well as celebrate the memory of Michael Gmitter.

Entering its 10th year, the Michael V Gmitter Memorial Art Scholarship was given out in a reception on March 20 at Doucette Hall’s Bruce Gallery.

Interim Edinboro University President Michael J. Hannan introduced the event, announcing that the gallery exhibition and reception marked the beginning of the art department’s celebration of its 100th year in operation, a celebration that will continue for around 18 months.

The scholarship winners were decided by a panel, and they named a first-place winner and two honorable mentions from the pool of 15 finalists.

Tyler Podomik won first place and the $2,500 scholarship, while Kathryn Broach and Mary Kate Noonan received honorable mentions, each taking home $750.     

For Jan Gmitter, Michael’s mother and one of the founders of the scholarship, the award is more than money. She talked about her son and how the scholarship keeps his artistic expression alive. “When Michael was taken from us in 2006, it was the most instinctive reaction to want tokeep his artistic spirit alive, if not through him directly then through the art of others.”

The first place winner, Podomik, felt humbled by the experience. “I feel grateful. There was a lot of good competition, and they kind of pushed me to make my work better and work harder,” he said the day after winning the scholarship. Podomik came to Edinboro two years ago after getting his associate degree in art from the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC).  

“It’s going to be really helpful,” he said. “I’m going to go to Thailand with the money, and I’ll probably pay off some bills. I’m definitely gonna use it to travel though, mostly, so it’s going to help a lot.”

He continued: “I graduate in May, [so] I’m going to go travel the west cost for about a month just by myself to kind of get out of the college mindset, you know, the craziness of college. And I’d say around August I’m going to go to Thailand.”

After traveling, he plans to go back to school. “I want to go to grad school and get my MFA in ceramics. I don’t know where, [but] I’ll apply to a bunch of different places and hopefully it’s somewhere not as cold. I don’t want to go to a snowy place again,” he said.

Podomik has been preparing for the scholarship for awhile: “I started preparing almost a year ago. I knew that I was going to apply to be a finalist last summer. Summer of 2018, I started work in that genre and throughout last semester, the fall semester, winter break and the spring semester, I worked with that in mind because I knew I wanted to win.”

A big inspiration for Podomik is people. He said: “I find a lot of inspiration in people themselves, the diversity of them, what they like and don’t like, how similar people can be in the same area and how different they can be in the same place. So that kind of stems a lot of inspiration — a lot of things motivate me — but that’s probably the thing that most drives my work.”

Podomik credits Professor Scott Cornish from CCAC for originally getting him into ceramics: “I took a painting class, and he told me I should take ceramics and I did, so I started throwing pots on the wheel.” However, Edinboro helped him expand his skills and start work in statues. “[A group of ‘Boro students] encouraged me to do sculpture, and that’s where I took it.”

People are Podomik’s inspiration and winning this scholarship has made seeing even more people through traveling possible.

Erica Burkholder |

Additional Photos:

Photos: Nathan Brennan

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