Nyquon Watson ’18 Named AICUO Award Finalist

February 22, 2018

Tyler Sloan '17

Nyquon Watson's piece "Melanin"
Nyquon Watson's piece "Melanin."
Photo credit: Courtesy of Nyquon Watson

Nyquon Watson ’18 is one of six artists who will compete for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities’ Grand Award for excellence in the visual arts this spring.


Visual Artist Nyquon Watson ’18, 2018 AICUO Award Winner

Losing, an art project by Nyquon Watson ’18, explores the progression of emotions and how they interplay with daily life through photography, typography, and anaglyph 3D — a feat that has earned him an Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (AICUO). Watson is one of six finalists in the nation’s first intercollegiate online arts competition.

Seniors from member colleges and universities “who have an exceptional portfolio and artistic drive” are nominated by their department chairs or deans before one round of AICUO judging that determines the finalists. The Grand Award and People’s Choice Award are announced later this year at the annual AICUO award reception, which includes a student panel, an art exhibition featuring finalists’ work, and an award ceremony.

“This project could stand as a conglomeration of all the end goals I have had in making art at Oberlin,” Watson says. “While I do not believe that any of my past pieces have specifically dealt with the same subject matter as these pieces, their overall positioning as timestamps of moments and memories that seem monumental at time, but often fade in the face of new moments, is a unifying force between them that I can say has drastically improved in its execution.”

Watson says his favorite piece from Losing is one entitled “Melanin,” which complements the project’s visual scheme of skin, race, and identity. The two-part piece features up-close photographs of skin, with each of the two photos overlaid with text — the first one reading “Melanin” and the second displaying a short poem. “I enjoy that the piece reflects a growth to a place of understanding that I was sorely lacking when I first arrived at Oberlin,” Watson added.

Each contestant is judged anonymously by the AICUO and without knowledge of educational affiliation, a process that Professor of Art, Installation, Sculpture and Book Arts Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias says speaks to Watson’s skill and vision.

“Working with Nyquon has always been a pleasure,” says Yannuzzi-Macias. “He works incredibly hard and is always pushing the material and conceptual boundaries of his artwork. Winning the AICUO award is a testament to the strength of Nyquon's work beyond the acknowledgment of our studio art faculty, who know quite well how talented he is.”

Watson will receive his award on April 5, 2018 at Columbus College of Art and Design in the Acock Gallery, and his portfolio will permanently remain on the AICUO website for viewing purposes.

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