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Prize Winners: Text


Cherie Sampson, “ (karuna),” 2019, video art.


Cherie Sampson has worked for over 25 years as an interdisciplinary artist in environmental performance, sculpture, and video art. She has exhibited internationally in live performances, art-in-nature symposia, video/film screenings, and installations in Chile, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, the U.S, and a number of other countries. She is a two-time Fulbright grantee (1998 and 2011) and a professor of art in the School of Visual Studies, University of Missouri.               

One of the nine emotions (navarasas) described in the ancient Indian text on drama, the Natyashastra, karuna is the “rasa” of anguish and despair.  This experimental documentary short film depicts the first 72 hours after a diagnosis of hereditary breast cancer. The tense and layered soundscape is comprised of phone calls and conversations with family and medical practitioners documented by the filmmaker while navigating the overwhelming information in the days immediately following the life-changing news.  Sound and gesture are contrasted with images of the natural world, alternating between the restless and beatific, the latter offering momentary glimpses of calm (shanta rasa) at the center of chaos.                                       

“ (karuna)” is part of a series of artistic works including short films, video installations and live performances by Cherie Sampson navigating and portraying an experience with hereditary cancer.  The project ( also depicts stories from survivors and ‘previvors’ with similar challenges who carry the BRCA1/2 genetic mutations.

- Cherie Sampson (Canton, MO)



Raymond Thompson, “Appalachian Ghost - Untitled #2,” 2019, photography.
Raymond Thompson, “Appalachian Ghost - Tunnelitis #1,” 2019, digital ink jet print.

In the 1930s, migrant laborers came from all over the region to work on the construction of a 3-mile tunnel to divert the New River near Fayetteville, WV. During the process, workers were exposed to pure silica dust due to improper drilling techniques. Many developed a lung disease known as silicosis, which is estimated to have caused the death of nearly 800 workers. Up to two-thirds of those workers were African American. Besides a small plaque at the Hawks Nest State Park, which lists a significantly lower number than the actual number killed, there is very little to mark the site. There is also sparse visual documentation available about the event. There has been an effort to erase this tragic moment in history from the memory of West Virginia.              

In Appalachian Ghost, I explore visual possibilities of what that time and place looked like, using primary-source materials to recreate the workers’ experiences in photographs. I have also recontextualized and re-presented archive photographs, originally made to document the construction of the Hawks Nest Tunnel dam and powerhouse. The few people caught in the photographic archive were often nameless and voiceless workers. Specifically, I’m looking at what has been left out of African-American visual history, which to date has mainly been documented with a colonial gaze. From this standpoint, I have sought to re/create work that has been informed by and made from historical documents and photographs.                                                               

My research also focused on working with non-visual resources that inspired the creation of new works. I researched news clips, letters, poetry and other cultural resources looking for information that described the experience of working in the tunnel. I was particularly struck by a poem from Muriel Rukeyser’s book The Book of the Dead called “George Robinson: Blues:”

- Raymond Thompson (Morgantown, WV)



Jennifer Robison, “Wavelenghts Between Us,” 2020, archival pigment print with Morpho butterfly specimen.
Jennifer Robison, “Crypsis,” 2020, archival pigment print.

My work employs my daughter as a surrogate to explore an internal dialogue about everyday life experiences. The photographs began as a method of working through compartmentalized emotions from going through thyroid cancer treatment, but they have evolved as a way to process the rest of my life, too. I use butterflies in the photographs, they are a symbol for thyroid cancer referencing fragility and metamorphosis. Investigating the butterflies on a microscopic scale revealed the blue coloration was structural color. The visible blue wasn’t actually blue but structurally colored iridescence, changing color based on light and perspective. Perception about the roles I play as mother, wife, and individual shifts over time like the color of the butterflies I photograph.

- Jennifer Robison (Shreveport, LA)

Prize Winners: Clients



Dean Dablow, “Art School Floor #12,” 2020, pigmented ink jet photograph.
Dean Dablow, ”Art School Floor #20,” 2020, pigmented ink jet photograph.
Dean Dablow, “Art School Floor #21,” 2020, pigmented ink jet photograph.
Dean Dablow, “Art School Floor #22,” 2020, pigmented ink jet photograph.

While working in my summer studio, located in an art school design room, I noticed the markings on the floor filled with random scuffs, paint spots, and charcoal, ground into the tiles by a myriad of students’ shoes and moved tables.  I began photographing these marks, organizing the more interesting in my viewfinder.  They have the appearance of etchings made by a printmaker working in abstraction.  Composition is paramount in these photographs as well as various color shifts I purposely made for variety.  The photographs are not documentary depictions of the floor. The floor was merely rich fodder for the abstractions I saw.

- Dean Dablow (Ruston, LA)


Alfield Reeves, “Caution: Black Girl Magic,” 2019, photography.
Alfield Reeves, “Don't Touch My Hair (D.T.M.H.),” 2019, photography.
Alfield Reeves, ”Walls,” 2019, photography.

Our world is filled with a barrage of distractions that can provide escapes and facades to hide our true selves. Many people show how they want others to view them, few people show who they really are. We are intricate beings. Alfield’s work not only captures our complexities, but aims to inspire people to look beyond the surface and find their authentic selves. His work also explores themes of black and brown people empowerment, self-confidence, self-reflection, faith, and collaboration.

- Alfield Reeves (Grand Rapids, MI)

Prize Winners: Clients
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