Video entry by ISU advertising student wins Best in Show in 7th Annual Biorenewables Art Competition


Advertising sophomore Skyler Knutzen won Best in Show for his "Nail in the Coffin" video. Photo by Alison Weidemann.

AMES, Iowa — A short video by Skyler Knutzen, an Iowa State University sophomore in advertising, won the Best in Show award in the 7th Annual Biorenewables Art Competition sponsored by the ISU Bioeconomy Institute (BEI).

This was the first year video entries were accepted for the competition, said Jill Euken, the institute's deputy director. "It's a growing medium for art, so we wanted to encourage students working in this medium to enter our competition. We're excited to have one chosen as Best in Show."

Awards were announced at a reception on Earth Day, April 22, at the Biorenewables Research Laboratory.

Twenty-seven Iowa State students submitted 26 artworks to this year's competition, which is open to those enrolled in integrated studio arts (undergraduate) and integrated visual arts (graduate) courses in the College of Design. They need not be studio arts or visual arts majors. Artwork submitted must reflect the Bioeconomy Institute's mission of "economic, environmental and social sustainability to advance development of biorenewable resources for the production of materials, fuels, energy and chemicals." Students also must submit statements detailing the life cycle of the materials used or the life cycle of the subject matter. Prizes are sponsored by BEI Director Robert C. Brown.

Best in Show
Knutzen, Des Moines, received a $750 prize for "Nail in the Coffin," a video he developed in the ArtIS 473x: Video Art course taught by Austin Stewart, assistant professor of art and visual culture. The class is part of Knutzen's digital media minor.

"In my artwork I wanted to create the connection between our environment and the cars we drive everyday. More importantly I wanted to show the negative effect that car emissions have on our environment," Knutzen said.

For the video, he tore car ads from magazines to represent vehicle emissions and nailed them to trees to demonstrate the physical connection with the environment, he said. Ripping the ads illustrated the effort that needs to be made to shift away from our current lifestyle and fake blood conveyed human culpability for destroying the environment. He used a "creepy horror-film vibe to highlight the seriousness of the issues we're facing and to show that we should be afraid of where we're heading. If we don't change our ways, we'll be putting the nail in the coffin of the environment and eventually of ourselves," he said.

Industrial design junior Limay Vong won first place with her "Phase I, Phase II" ceramic sculpture. Photo by Alison Weidemann.

First place
Limay Vong, a junior in industrial design from Waukee, won first place ($350) for her "Phase I, Phase II" ceramic sculpture created in the ArtIS 204: Studio Fundamentals: Ceramics class taught by Professor Ingrid Lilligren, chair of the Department of Art and Visual Culture.

Integrated studio arts sophomore Cassandra Corbin's "Battle to Go Green" mixed-media helmet was awarded second place.
Amanda Miller, senior in biological/pre-medical illustration, won third prize for "River birch (Betula nigra)," a digital painting in Adobe Photoshop. Photo by Alison Weidemann.
Integrated studio arts senior Alyssa Campbell's watercolor, "Beauty of Biofuels," received an honorable mention.

Vong created a hand-built slab container in two sections bound by twine woven through hand-drilled holes. She appreciated the creative freedom and opportunity to experiment with joining techniques, she said. In her artist statement, Vong focuses on the life cycles of the two materials, noting that the clay, once formed and fired, will remain as it is, while the twine will one day decompose.

Her work was "inspired by the moon and the constellations of the night sky. I intended to only show the full and new moon to represent our views on life. The emphasis on the start and the end often leaves the middle of life ignored or without emphasis, making us worried about the end," she says in the statement. "The constellations on the side, along with the twine, tie the pieces together and represent the various stories that connect Phase I and Phase II."

Other cash award winners included integrated studio arts sophomore Cassandra Corbin, Montezuma, second place ($250) for her "Battle to Go Green" mixed-media battle helmet; and Amanda Miller, Edina, Minnesota, senior in biological/pre-medical illustration, third place ($150) for "River birch (Betula nigra)" digital painting.

Integrated studio arts senior Alyssa Campbell, Waukee, received an honorable mention for her watercolor "Beauty of Biofuels."

The competition was juried by Mary Holtze, an adjunct art professor at Des Moines Area Community College and a drawing instructor at the Des Moines Art Center; Ames artist Kristin Roach; and Jacqulyn Baughman, director of graduate education for the ISU biorenewable resources and technology graduate certificate program.

In addition to the awardees, students with work accepted into the exhibition are:

Samantha Belina, Marion, senior in design, "Winds of Change"
Chris Gearhart, Johnston, senior in graphic design, "Gasification"
Michael Holz, Dubuque, senior in advertising, "Immortal"
Yuma Izumi, Chesterfield, Missouri, junior, and Julia Takemura, Mason City, senior in integrated studio arts, "Don't Litter Bro"
Mary Khan, Parkersburg, senior in journalism and mass communication, "An Exposé on Iowa State University's Recycling"
Judy Long, Des Moines, graduate student in integrated visual arts, "We Renew"
Alexandria Lorang, Manchester, senior in integrated studio arts, "The Power of Oil"
Sven Nielson, Albert City, senior in design, "Running Out of Energy"
Kipp Paulsen, Ames, senior in English, "Caustic Aspirations: Crude Refinement"
Hannah Prosch, Dubuque, senior in design, "Sustainable Soil"
Raymond Schmidt, Williamsburg, senior in graphic design, "Push Down & Turn" (also includes a physical artwork)

Physical art
Nibras Abdalla, pre-biological/pre-medical illustration, "Mantis Shrimp"
Katie DuVal, Logan, junior in integrated studio arts, "Mosaic DNA"
Emily Fitzpatrick, Toddville, junior in integrated studio arts, "Bleeding Shirt"
Lauren Haylock, Lindenhurst, Illinois, senior in integrated studio arts, "Story of a Diamond"
Holly Hazelton, Cedar Rapids, sophomore in integrated studio arts, "Rehash"
Robert Jinkins, graduate student in integrated visual arts, "Meditations on Siddhartha"
Krithika Mohan, Thane, India, junior in landscape architecture, "Ephemeral Gesture"
Emily Olson, DeSoto, senior in graphic design, "A Rehash of Winter"
Sarah Reagan, Apple Valley, Minnesota, junior in integrated studio arts, "Whose Broad Stripes and Plight Scars?"
Morgan Van Denack, Elmhurst, Illinois, senior in landscape architecture, "Lily Clutch"

All work entered in this year's competition will be displayed in the lobby of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory, located on the west side of the Iowa State campus, until March 2017. Viewing hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; the building is closed weekends and university holidays. All of the artwork, including videos and artist statements, also can be viewed in an online presentation.

Robert Mills, Bioeconomy Institute Communications, (515) 294-4459,
Skyler Knutzen, Advertising,
Limay Vong, Industrial Design,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,