Students compete for the Gmitter Scholarship at Bruce Gallery

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 6:15 PM
Students compete for the Gmitter Scholarship at Bruce Gallery by Madi Gross
Photo: Gabriel Hypes

Doucette Hall’s Bruce Gallery recently hosted the Michael V. Gmitter Memorial Scholarship Exhibition in which senior art students at Edinboro University submitted their artwork for total scholarship prizes of $3,500. Michael Gmitter was an Edinboro University metals student who died on July 26, 2006. His parents, Jan Gmitter and her late husband Richard Gmitter, started the scholarship in memory of their son. The winners of the scholarship were announced on March 21. 

Many different mediums were displayed in the show, created by the 13 finalists: Courtney Powell, metals/jewelry; Sara Moose-Torres, graphic and interactive design and illustration; Bradley Milligan, painting; Bethany Butler, ceramics; Shellie Liebensberger, animation; Chelsea Fetherlin, drawing, painting and printmaking; Shelby Kirk, graphic and interactive design; Lianne Lariviere, wood furniture; Nate Jeffery, painting; John MacDonald, cinema; Chandler McGraw, ceramics and metal smithing; Kaleb Carpinello, metal smithing, painting, ceramics; and Lydia DeVault-Arn, graphic design.

This year’s jurors included Susan Barnett, Karen Ernst, Cassandra Reese and Douglas Eberhardt. Three of the four are professors and instructors in the art department at Edinboro and Barnett is a curator at the Erie Art Museum. 

“Choosing was definitely not an easy experience,” said Reese. “There were a lot of strong works this year.” Reese explained that she and her fellow jurors evaluated the works based on specific criteria. “There were three criteria [for us to judge]: continuity, statement and presentation.”

Many of the artists have been continuously working on the pieces for this exhibit for months and multiple semesters. 

“I made lots of lists,” DeVault-Arn said about her time management during the creation period. When asked how she would describe her work to anyone who hasn’t seen it before, DeVault-Arn said “structurally balanced” and added that it also uses a lot of geometry.

This was the ninth annual Michael V. Gmitter Scholarship exhibition. Every one of the 13 artists featured in the exhibit received a certificate, a T-shirt and a hug from Jan Gmitter. Two students received scholarship money as well. Second place went to Kirk, who won $1,000 in scholarship money. First place went to Powell, who received $2,500 in scholarship money.

Powell explained the inspiration for her artwork. “A lot of my pieces are inspired by my family,” she said. “I try to protect them in a way with metal because metal is such a durable material...So then I make them into organisms and then I use seed pods and micro-organisms as inspirations.”

To those who haven’t seen Powell’s work, she described it as “organic, intricate and fun.”

With her scholarship money, Powell plans to continue creating art and looks to accomplish her long-term goals, including opening a gallery of her own.

The Gmitter Scholarship Exhibition will remain in Bruce Gallery in Doucette Hall until March 31.

Madi Gross can be reached at

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