Winners chosen for symposium contest

Work on display in Carr Education-Fine Arts building

By Terrence Cain
On March 8, 2013

  • “Dollar Bill” by Sean Halstead. Photo by Adam Sauceda
  • “Mike the Mime” by Savannah Logsdon. Photo by Adam Sauceda
  • “Wanted” by Nicole Clemens. Photo by Adam Sauceda

ASU students Nicole Clemens, Sean Halstead, and Steven Salas beat back the competition with their pieces based on American films and values at the annual symposium contest Oct. 22, 2012 in the CJ Davidson Center.

Jeffrey Lyons, a nationally known television and film critic with shows such as "Reel Talk" and "Sneak Previews," gave the keynote speech at this year's symposium.

Salas won first place and a $250 for his piece entitled "Hair-A Silent Music Short."
"This was my first symposium to attend-and since I love film-I thought it would be interesting to enter the contest," Salas said. "When [Lyons] talked about how film used to portray minorities as lower-class people, such as being someone's maid, it amazed me because we're not portrayed like that in film today, so my video was made specifically to show how accepting people are today of a wide range of things-from minorities to homosexuality to religious differences."

Halstead and Clemens tied for second place with a $125 cash prize for their digital pieces. Clemens' piece is entitled "Wanted," and Halstead's piece is entitled "The Dollar Bill."

"Last year I attended the symposium and won first place," Halstead said. "I didn't go in this year thinking I'd win again, I just wanted to express how I feel about greed in the film industry in America."

Clemens' piece was based on how celebrity status affects the average, everyday person. Clemens, like Halstead, used photo shop to put her piece together, using mug shots of celebrities with hands grabbing at them.

Each contestant gave their own interpretation based on this year's theme of how American film has influenced America's values. Each piece was judged based on creativity, originality, technical competency and depth of thought. The judges this year were professors of art Dr. Ben Sum, Dr. Bill Doll and Dr. Martha Saywell.

"We agreed first and foremost that the artwork has to respond to the symposium," Sum said. "In addition to the content we also look at the form of quality, like design, and also that it is creative."

Sum has taught at ASU for the last eight years and was very pleased to see an increase in participation at this year's symposium with a total of thirteen contestants. Six years ago Sum judged for the first time at the symposium where only four people entered the contest.
Sum predicts that the increase he has seen over the years means things are going very well for art at ASU, but like the other judges, he would like to see more participation from other departments at ASU. Sum feels that the contest misinterprets the symposium as just an art contest.

"It's not just an art contest- it's more than that," Sum said. "Anyone who feels like they have something to offer to the world could enter-whether it be in other areas such as writing, film, or music."

Even though there is an earnest feeling that the symposium needs more entries, one judge feels that promotion is only half the battle in increasing entries in the symposium.

"It's kind of the nature of the beast," Doll said. "It takes a particular type of artistic discipline to do what is required for the contest."

Doll is a fourteen-year veteran at ASU and director over the university's theater program, as well as a professor of theater, but this is his first symposium to judge at the university.

Saywell said that stretching out the awareness beyond the parameters of ASU may be what's needed to increase entries into the contest.

"If we could get more awareness out into other buildings, maybe into the San Angelo Standard Times and local coffee shops, I think it could help increase participation," Saywell said.

 Saywell has been classically trained as a pianist for nearly 31 years and recently received her terminal degree in piano performance from the University of Wisconsin. This year's symposium is her first to judge at ASU and is a newly welcomed professor to the university as of August 2012.

Saywell was asked to be a judge because a music piece was entered into the contest by Savannah Logsdon, which also included an illustration entitled "Mike the Mime."

"It was just a little ditty I did based on the silent film era that I created," Logsdon said. "I thought it would be interesting to add music to the illustration, so I composed a piece on piano for it to make it feel like my own version of a silent film."

Entering the symposium is a fairly simply task to do, but it can be very time-consuming.
"All anyone has to do is attend the lecture and listen to the speech and the discussions and then respond to what they heard in either a visual art, essay, musical piece or video format within 30 days of the lecture," Sum said.

All entries at this year's symposium will be on public display until Friday, March 8, in the Art Gallery in room 193 of the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building on Dena Drive.

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