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Three SIU seniors share 2024 Rickert-Ziebold art award

Art students pose in front of their artwork.
SIU News

Three graduating seniors in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Art and Design are sharing the university’s most prestigious art prize — the Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award.

Lauren Clark, a communication design major from Murphysboro; Carson Slaughter, a metalsmithing major from Chicago, and Nicole Zralka, an art education major from Frankfort, Illinois, are sharing in this year’s honor. In all, six seniors competed this year.

“I’m very glad that there were a few of us instead of just one,” Slaughter said. “It would be impossible for me to choose if I were a judge. I’m very grateful that I was chosen and very happy that I can share it with others.”

The exhibition runs through Saturday, April 20, in the SIU Surplus Gallery, 432 S. Washington St., Carbondale. A reception will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, in the Surplus Gallery, with the awards presentation at 6:30 p.m. The gallery is in the Studio Arts Building, formerly known as the Glove Factory. The exhibition is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday and from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 20.

Another successful competition

Sun Kyoung Kim, chair of the Rickert-Ziebold committee and associate professor of metalsmithing and jewelry, said the students’ hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and that she hopes they continue their search for innovation and creativity.

“The impactful or provoking visual, colors and intensity of the craftsmanship stood out to me,” Kim said. “I am so lucky that I get to work with these talented young artists and designers. I get to watch them put in everything they have. They spend hours and hours to create their artworks as well as to plan things out. Many of them told me that they finally caught up on some sleep when the installation was completed. I really appreciate all their efforts.”

 Clark’s “Gender Diverse World” installation is an interactive experience that includes a book and 3D application to create an educational resource on gender diversity around the world. She said she found little content on the subject outside of academic materials that tend to focus on the United States or European countries or the politics that gender-diverse people face.

“I wanted create something to fill the gap,” she said.

Using her illustrative, motion graphics and print design experience, Clark created a 40-page illustrated book — complete with a QR code — and accompanying video for users to learn more about worldwide gender diversity. Clark said she wants to build on the material she already has through more research and first-person perspectives. Her hope is the book and 3D experience “opens minds so that we can all see beyond our own small corners of the world.”

Slaughter’s approximate 12-piece installation includes various wearable headdresses and necklaces. He has been interested in metalsmithing for “a long time,” noting he asked for tools for his 15th birthday to melt cans and make knives.

“I’ve definitely transitioned more to wearables as opposed to knives or other blacksmithing items,” Slaughter said. He said he came to SIU Carbondale because “this is the place to do metals.”

“I knew I wanted to make stuff, and I wasn’t interested in computer design or product design,” he said. “I’m more of a craft, hands-on person. Metal is favorite medium.”

Zralka’s installation of nine oil paintings center on exploring “the multifaceted expectations of femininity throughout girlhood.”

“I just wanted to reflect on growing up as a girl and accepting femininity as a strength even though I had to learn that sometimes it’s not viewed that way and it can be taken as a weakness,” said Zralka, who is the youngest among three sisters.

The largest oil painting in the exhibit is one of Zralka with her mother inspired by a photograph when she was a youngster. In her artist description, Zralka notes the symbolic use of pink ribbons in a “delicate interplay of pink silk and oil paint to create a sense of nostalgia and introspection that prompts viewers to reconnect with their own reminiscences of girlhood that when woven together create an emotional tapestry that is unique to the feminine experience.”

Zralka is presently a student teacher in the Cobden School District but said she plans to return to northern Illinois upon graduation in May.

Other finalists 

Other finalists were:

· Clayton Curry, blacksmithing, Monticello, Illinois.

· Tam Gilker, metalsmithing, Webster Groves, Missouri.

· Jessica Tosti, communication design, Clearwater, Florida. 

Promoting visual arts excellence

The award was established 50 years ago by the Rickert family in honor of the late Joseph Rickert, an attorney and former state senator from Waterloo, to encourage young artists. Because of the Rickert family’s “vision, love of art, and confidence in the future,” the School of Art and Design is able to annually present cash awards to Rickert-Ziebold scholars.


Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the 2024 Rickert-Ziebold Trust Award reception and award presentation on April 19 at the SIU Surplus Gallery. The reception is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with the award presentation at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact Sun Kim at sunkim@siu.eduor the Surplus Gallery at 618-453-7548 or sgallery@siu.edu.

Pete Rosenbery — arts and design, architecture, automotive and aviation, humanities, journalism and mass communications, law, public policy, social sciences.

SIU News is produced by University Communications and Marketing - 618-453-2589. Twitter: @SIUCNews
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