At this year’s Elmira College Senior Art Show, three students were awarded “Best of Show” awards and two received honorable mentions. The annual show is currently on display in the George Waters Gallery while a corresponding Term III Student Art Show, with works from students in every class year, is in Tifft Lounge. Both exhibits will be on display through May 26.

Recent alumna Jenna Cowder ’22, Curator of Collections at the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, presented the Best of Show awards, noting how the works expressed the students’ motivations and demonstrated careful craftsmanship and conceptual strategies. She said the judging was challenging as all of the senior work was high caliber.

The Best of Show winners are:

  • Amayia Giscombe ’23, Nursing major

  • Sarah McGrain '23, Art major

  • Alexander Taylor '23, Visual Arts major

The Honorable Mentions are:

Images of the award-winning art are at the top of this article.

“When viewing the senior art students' works, I was struck by how authentic their work was, as it came from their lived experiences,” said Jan Kather, Elmira College Media Artist. “I sympathize with our prize judge as the works in this show are thoughtfully crafted and compelling in their subject. Choosing the Best of Show was a formidable task!”

“The winners of these awards are not just talented artists, they are thoughtful, genuine, and high-character individuals,” said Aaron Kather, Assistant Professor of Art. “If you look beyond the surface of their artwork, I think you can see how each one of them celebrates the beauty and the good they see in the world, while also suggesting ways that we can and must make the world a better place.”

About the Best of Show Pieces

Giscombe’s painting is of an intimate moment between two family members as a woman gets her hair braided. According to her artist statement, Giscombe was inspired “to incorporate the theme of Black resilience in America” while learning about the history of Black artists in her Black Artists in America course.

"Winning Best of Show helps set the stage for the representation of minorities on college campuses,” said Giscombe. “I hope that Elmira College continues to support the education of current issues and cultural practices involving these groups."

McGrain’s piece is a ceramic figure of a whale that doubles as a functional lamp. “It was an honor to receive an award,” said McGrain. “I was inspired by my love of animals and nature.” In her artist statement, McGrain wrote, “I want my artwork to capture the majesty of the natural world and its magic.” She recently shared with WETM TV News about her love for nature during a Mornings On The Go spotlight.

Also inspired by the natural world, Taylor’s piece is a detailed oil painting of a woodsy trail. In his artist statement, he shared, “There is nothing that I enjoy more than creating works of art that represent the complexity and nuances of the natural world.”

Over the past four years, Taylor has received several art awards and was also featured in a Mornings On The Go spotlight. His work has been displayed throughout Elmira, including community murals, an Elmira City Hall exhibit, and restoration work of the Eldridge Park carousel animals.

“I feel extremely grateful to have been awarded one of the Best in Show winners for this year's Term III show,” said Taylor. “I dedicate many hours to my landscape paintings, something I am very passionate about, so I am truly honored to have received such positive feedback about my paintings here at Elmira College.”

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