University of the Ozarks Assistant Professor of Art Dawn Holder took home top honors at the 66th annual River Valley Invitational, announced recently at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum.
The River Valley Invitational was open to professional artists nationwide and the winning submission was announced during the exhibit’s opening reception on June 5. The exhibit is on display through Sept. 14 at the Fort Smith museum.
For the competition, artists had to submit a work that communicated the idea of home for them, along with a paragraph further describing the idea. There were 52 works created by 43 artists submitted for the competition.
Holder’s winning artwork is a large-scaled installation called “Suburban Lawn Iteration III.” The piece is an installation made of porcelain featuring about 75,000 blades of grass.
Holder, who has taught at Ozarks since 2011, said this is the third version of the installation and that it took her about nine months to create, beginning in the summer of 2012. Holder said the pieces of through low-temperature firing, and then they are dipped in glaze and fired again. She mixes all of her own glazes, experimenting with different glaze recipes and colorants.
Holder, who earned a master of fine arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that she decided to enter this work into the show because “a lot of people really connect to their yard and to their lawn through nostalgia and through the sense of memory of childhood. I think how you set up your yard and your lawn says a lot about who you are and what you value.”
Holder received $1,000 and a solo show in 2015 at the museum for winning the event’s top prize.