Raclin artists take top awards

"To Our Children's Children's Children"
by Ron Monsma

IU South Bend visual arts student Ellen Ridenour, alumnus Jason Cytacki, and professors Ron Monsma and Dora Natella, recently received awards at the 31st Elkhart Juried Regional at the Midwest Museum of American Art. The juried competition drew the best regional artists in northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

The $1200 Best of Show Award went to Natella, assistant professor in visual arts, for her bronze sculpture “Gaia.” This bronze relief portrays "the Earth Goddess emerging from a multitude of leaves," said Natella. She has been "fascinated with this icon for quite some time because it encapsulated the expression of a growing global Earth-based consciousness." More of Natella’s work can be viewed on her professional website

Monsma, assistant professor in visual arts, was awarded Best Drawing for his pastel, "House by the Lake." Monsma was recently awarded the prestigious Jack Richeson Best of Show Award in the 9th Annual Pastel 100 competition sponsored by the Pastel Journal. More of Monsma’s work can been seen at his website

Alumnus Jason Cytacki's piece, "Silver Screen Melancholy," made from ink and oil on a panel, received a $900 Purchase Award. Cytacki received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, IU South Bend, in 2007. He is currently a graduate student at Notre Dame University.

Student Ellen Ridenour received a $700 Purchase Award for her piece, "Hapchang," made from monotype and handmade paper. More of her work is available at Ellen Ridenour Studio located in the Old Bag Factory, Goshen, Indiana. Visitors to this working print and photography studio can watch Ridenour working on printmaking and papermaking.

The Elkhart Juried Regional Exhibition features 163 works by 128 artists, all from 21 counties in northern Indiana and southern Michigan. The jurors were Jan Cicero, an art dealer from Chicago and Sam Knecht, painter and Professor of Art at Hillsdale College, Michigan. Natella said this annual competition is the largest cash awards show in Indiana. This year awards given to artists totaled more than $28,000. "This initiative engages artists and art professionals in a dialogue that expands public understanding and appreciation of the visual arts," said Natella. The show, which Natella says "provides a tremendous opportunity for established and emerging Midwest artists," opened at the Midwest Museum of American Art on November 6th and will run through January 3, 2010.