SRU arts department stages social media drawing contest


Slippery Rock University art department faculty

Slippery Rock University art department faculty acted as jurors for an Instagram drawing contest that drew submissions from more than 60 area high school artists.

June 15, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's investment in the arts has never been confined to a canvas, a sheet of music, a stage or even to its campus.

The art department, in an attempt to engage high school students, further broadened its creative community by hosting an Instagram drawing contest.

The contest, which ran May 1-21, invited local high school artists to photograph their drawings or sketches and upload them to their personal Instagram accounts using the hashtag #srudraw.

“Edgar Allen bro,” by Anthony from Aquinas Academy.

   A portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, titled “Edgar Allen bro,”
   by Anthony from Aquinas Academy.

At the close of the contest, a panel of jurors - which included: Theresa Antonellis, director of the Martha Gault Art; Heather Hertel, associate professor of painting and drawing; Sean Macmillan, assistant professor of metalsmithing; Katherine Mickle, associate professor of photography; and Barbara Westman, associate professor of printmaking and fiber arts - selected 19 winners and five runners-up from the pool of 67 submissions.

Hertel, who approached the art department faculty with the idea during the 2016 fall semester, said that the contest was overwhelmingly positive for its first year, drawing entries from 12 different high schools.

"Instagram is not only taking over social media but the visual world as well," said Hertel. "I think people often undermine it as a valuable platform for art, but we are looking to change that."

Instagram, a mobile, desktop and internet-based photo-sharing service, now boasts more than a half billion users, joining other social media giants such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger.

Hertel says that the app's accessible; easy-to-use nature allows artists to quickly add content and to compare their own work to other pieces from around the world.

"It is an amazing way to network and conduct outreach," said Hertel. "It has allowed us to showcase the energy and vibrancy of SRU in a way that we would never have been able to do otherwise.

"We were especially looking for work that exemplified imagination, technique and clarity," she continued. "We were thrilled with the enthusiastic response of the students and the sensitivity of their artwork."

From black-and-white self-portraits to iconic pop culture sketches, the submissions expressed the personality of the artists while meeting the department's expectations.

"It became difficult to choose a favorite," Hertel admitted, "but I think the contest excited me as much as it did the high school students. It was really an opportunity to invite them into our community as artists and to give them the confidence to post their own artwork."

The 18 winners, all of whom were awarded SRU sketchbooks, were also showcased on the art department's Instagram account, sruarts.

A second contest for high school students has been tentatively planned for the 2018 spring semester.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maizee Zaccone | 724.738.2091 |