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April 1, 2023, 3-8pm
Vanguard Sculpture Services
3374 W Hopkins St, Milwaukee, WI 53216  



2023 jurors

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[2020’s grilled cheese grant was rotated into a virtual experience -- imagine biting into the grilled cheese of your dreams, crunchy buttery toast, oozing melting savory cheese ♥︎]

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2020 winner: meg selkey!!!
runners-up: yhazmin sanders-sanchez, jayce kolinksi, maria alfaro, nick drain

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images are in a slideshow format,
click images to navigate through.

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maria alfaro

Maria Alfaro is a Mexican-American artist born and raised in a small town named Acumbaro Michoacan. She is currently studying at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design to get a BFA. Her medium of work is primarily woodcut relief printing. She focuses on ideas about cultural heritage, traditions, identity, and memories. Most of the work is a reflection and an exploration of the meaning behind the term “home”. Her work depicts collaged imagery and surrealist settings about growing up in the impoverished town of Acumbaro. The landscapes are often cluttered with animals, insects, plants and the narratives are centralized around specific human figures which are depicted into dream-like states. There is always an emphasis on capturing the smaller things as well as focusing on the beauty of growing up around living beings.

thesis budget

(birch plywood $70, paper $225, shellac $8, gesso $10, wood panels $87, glue $8)

total $408


nick drain

Nick Drain is a fine artist born in Chicago, IL, who lives and works in Milwaukee, WI. Centering his thinking around blackness, his work investigates the black identity and the politics of visibility in order to understand the complex relationship between blackness and the object of the camera. He has exhibited both locally and nationally, most notably showing work at the International Center for Photography in New York City, NY, the Colorado Photographic Art Center in Denver, CO, and mounting a solo show at Genesis Gallery in Milwaukee, WI. In 2019, Nick completed the Yale Norfolk School of Art residency and was awarded a partial MFA scholarship in the PAFA Crosscurrents Juried Exhibition. Nick will graduate from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design from the New Studio Practice program with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2020.

Although it is wholly my intention to complete my senior thesis body of work as outlined, due to the recent loss of access to the MIAD facilities which are essential to the production of my thesis due to COVID-19 closures, I will be unable to complete this work as planned within the remainder of my senior year. As it is my primary goal to complete these works as soon as I am able, I have left this proposal unchanged while I work to locate a new form for my senior thesis that is independent of MIAD facilities.

In my practice I seek to understand the relationship between blackness and visibility at the sit of the camera, through the investigation of the intersection of historical photographic representations of blackness and the widening contemporary utilizations of the image. By collapsing the space between subject and author via the usage of self-portraiture and appropriation, I employ image and sculpture to interrogate the value of visibility, the image’s capability for representation, and the ways in which images and the camera both grant agency and directly practice violence upon black bodies. The goal of my work is to reconfigure the surveilling power dynamic between those who are privileged to observe, and those who are rendered hypervisible. The body of work that I am currently working towards completing for my senior thesis is a collection of sculptures about images. This body of work centers the geometric triangle as an opportune origin site and central hub from which to investigate the representational interactio of image and black representation as described above. The shape of the triangle, its definin characteristics, and inherent properties all work as a vehicle to allow for a questioning of the maker-viewer-subject relationship present in any representational media, the ramifications of the transatlantic slave trade, the representational capacity of images, and the future of our understanding of the form and purpose of the image object.

thesis budget

(glass/plexiglass $12.50, printing $20, steel $162.60, glass $37.50, liquid photo emulsion $65.90, glass clamps $38, window tinting (tinting film and installation materials) $40.29, hanging wire $25.94, glass $84.00, photographic printing $80.00)

total $566.73


jayce kolinski

Jayce Kolinski is a non-fiction filmmaker and photographer currently attending the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  Their work explores individuals’ connection to space by compiling and weaving the personal, scientific, and cultural significants of a given location into a purposeful document.My senior thesis will be a collection of three short films that occupy the nonfiction essay genre titled, “What You Left Behind”. In my artistic practice, I place the setting at the forefront of the film emphasizing the narrative’s connection to space. Many of my projects explore this approach through a variety of modes allowing personal, scientific, and cultural perspectives to interact with private and public spaces alike. My senior thesis will utilize this approach by investigating specific entry points tied to either a personal space or artifact my estranged father left behind after his unexpected death three years ago.
Throughout my father's life, he struggled with several drug addictions, and after he unexpectedly passed away I began collecting an archive of letters, images, and recordings he left behind. The archive held a complex and revealing story of his relationship to prescription and illicit drugs, and glimmers of my distant relationship with him. I began creating my own archive responding to and reflecting on the information I had learned. It was hard seeing the story behind my father’s abuse as it reveled the man who lost himself. I began to deeply regret my inaction and wondered what I could have done differently. This led me to consider how I might turn my distant relationship with my father, and his traumatic and sudden death into a purposeful document.
Over the past two years, I have been working within an array of mediums including 16mm film, analog VHS tape, digital video, and film photography. These forms allow me to occupy, question, and respond to my family’s archive. More specifically, I have been questioning these mediums’ representation of my family and exploring the construction and disintegration of significant places. As of now I have collected over 300 hours of footage,curated it into manageable sequences, completed one film, and determined the content and shape of the remaining two films.Overall, this grant will allow me to continue exploring these analog mediums throughout the next two films. It will also provide the funds to purchase needed hard drive space to store my growing archive of media safely. Most importantly, it will allow me to submit to several acclaimed and respected film festivals - allowing this project to live a life outside of the classroom.

thesis budget

(sony handycam dcr-trv20 mini dv $142, 60 minute tapes $12, canipus anolog converter $121, firewire conversion cord $30, kodak 50d 400ft rolls $590.40, developing + digitization $352, 6tb g drive hard drive $ 200.99, lacie 5tb portable hard drive $179.99, festival submission fees (exact) $322) 
total $1,950.38


yhazmin sanders-sanchez

Yhazmin Sanders-Sanchez is a Midwest born/Southern raised multidisciplinary artist based in Milwaukee. Working closely with object, image, and performance. Yhazmin Sanders-Sanchez is an Aquarius, black, and non-binary. They are currently in their senior year at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

I have been considering the ‘spectacle of visual culture’ within my work and how that concerns people coming from communities similar to my own. I think about how my community is targeted and hyper-exposed to visual stimulation that seem to control our values. I process these structures through concepts such as surveillance, hypersexuality, hypermasculinity, class, marketing, and belief in the ‘American Dream’. My work also reflects ideas of the ‘poor image’ by appropriating low quality images found through Google searches, free iPhone photo editing apps, and Xbos 360 gameplay screen grabs, etc. I am constantly challenging the classist nature of white wall gallery spaces and their accessibility.

I make work for the kids. Those who grew up like me, not realizing that this is for us too.

thesis budget
(4 aluminum rims $350, 1 steering wheel $100, 1 shift knob $100, hex rod car frame $50, found fabric car body $50, 8.5x11 photo prints $100, misc objects and/or material $50, business cards $50, takeaways $50)

total $900


meg selkey

Meg Selkey is an illustrator and painter based in Milwaukee. She is a BFA candidate in the Painting and Drawing program at the UWM Peck School of the Arts. She hopes to attend the MFA program at the Center for Cartoon Studies in the fall.

The standard story of female adolescence usually involves many milestones: first period, first bra, first kiss. While women may relate to these experiences, it also ignores the complexities and conflicts that underlay “girlhood”. Girls grow up a society that is oversaturated with depictions of unattainable femininity whilst still in the midst of childhood. Once becoming preteens, many girls no longer want to be seen as a child and instead rush to identify with these manufactured ideals of womanhood.

My work explores humorous yet poignant scenes in the lives of young girls navigating their sexuality, emotions, and changing environments. Many of these scenes are far from extraordinary, focusing instead on mundane moments that reflect the inner struggle of girls trying on womanhood for the first time. This may also manifest in the shared rituals of adolescent girls, such as painting nails or brushing hair. The “female experience” can be shaped by these intimate shared moments between girls rather than focusing on exclusionary biological milestones.

The figures are often clumsy and unproportioned, reflecting the overall awkwardness of a growing body during adolescence. This is also played with through experimentation with the application of materials in a limited composition. I’d like the girl(s) to dominate the composition to the point of being uncomfortable. The smaller scale of many of the pieces aims to heighten the feeling of closeness and intimacy between the viewer and the narrative.

While I base many of the scenes on my own experiences, this is not an autobiographical series. Rather, my ultimate goal is to connect with others regardless of gender, race, or age. I am hoping the audience feels empathy and perhaps even some love for these girls. While we may look back at our younger self with shame, we must instead practice compassion and set an example for the preteens of today.

thesis budget

(acrylic paints $250, brushes $30, gesso, sandpaper $15, wooden panels $100, misc (pastels, mixed media) $30) total $425


1st Place: Meg Selkey
2nd Place: Yhazmin Sanders-Sanchez
3rd Place: Maria Alfaro
4th Place: Jayce Kolinski
5th Place: Nick Drain

documentation of finalists’ installations by christina ossers @docmyart