Each year, art students from Ohio schools submit their portfolios to the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio’s Excellence in the Visual Arts awards program. Six finalists are chosen from the pool of applicants—this year there were 18. The finalists’ portfolios are judged by gallery owners, community artists, art journalists, and state legislators to determine the Grand Award winner. This year, the Grand Award went to Oberlin senior studio art major Matthew Gallagher.
“Winning this award has almost immediately catapulted me into the world of professional art,” says Gallagher. “The value of my paintings almost immediately rose 500 percent, and I was met with several new commissions and gallery exhibitions. Winning AICUO basically symbolized my transition from student artist to professional artist.”
Gallagher plans to continue to exhibit his work in galleries and shows after he leaves Oberlin. One of Gallagher’s winning paintings will reside in the office of Ohio Governor John Kasich for one year, and then will become part of the gallery collection at the AICUO headquarters in Columbus.
Founded in 1969, AICUO represents privately supported, nonprofit colleges and universities in Ohio, conducting public relations, research, and government relations for its members. Its Excellence in Visual Arts Award recognizes outstanding senior artists from independent colleges throughout Ohio who compete for the Grand Award, which includes a cash prize of $2,500.
Liv Combe is the communications office's editorial fellow.