Lander University senior Samantha Bailey and freshman Stacie Lazo took two of the top honors in the third annual 2017 Peach Belt Conference Arts Exhibition.
The virtual exhibition, open to all students from the PBC's eight schools, featured 73 pieces that included ceramics, digital art, drawing, installation, painting, printmaking, public art and sculpture.
"Of the nine winners, Lander was the only university that had both a placement winner and an honorable mention in the exhibition," said Jon Holloway, director of Lander's Monsanto Art Gallery. "The placement winners received cash awards and were recognized on the university web site - and for two Lander students to receive awards is a very nice accomplishment."
Bailey, making her first appearance in the exhibition, took third place in photography for her entry "Natural Body" - a shadowy black and white depiction of a human leg in the act of bending.
Lazo, in her PBC debut as well, earned an Honorable mention for her graphic drawing "Untitled" - which shows the underside of a series of desks in an abandoned classroom.
Exhibition judge Greg Shelnutt of Clemson University praised both works for their mass of contradictions in everyday recognizable objects.
"Bailey's 'Natural Body' is inherently human: we know this body - we may become this body someday - and yet this is a stranger's flesh of whom identity is not revealed," said Professor Shelnutt, chair of the Department of Art at Clemson. "It is an engaging work that both invites - and yet dissuades - closer inspection."
He called Lazo's deceptively simple drawing of chair legs "another graphically powerful work."
"Through the use of dramatic lighting, a sense of foreboding pervades the image," Shelnutt said. "In the light of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, etc., this could be the last image any of us sees as we hug the ground as shooters roam our hallways."
Lazo, while admitting she didn't intend anything that intense, said she was nonetheless honored for a piece that came from her own experience.
"I personally associate classrooms with being kind of strict … and they can cause a lot of anxiety sometimes," she said. "It's often hard for everyone in a classroom to concentrate on one thing - and even though there are a lot of different types of learning now, it's not being put into effect everywhere."
Bailey, on the other hand, said her photograph achieved just the effect she desired, even though her subject was more than just human.
"I wanted to incorporate natural shadows onto a human body to show how we should be taking care of all the natural things on the planet along with ourselves," she said. "I want to pursue a career in photography, and since I'm passionate about the environment, I want to make it into a conservation type of effort."