A Class of Their Own: The 2014 Excellence Award Winners
If you were to ask any KCAD student what they’re pursuing with their education, the answer wouldn’t be “perfection.” That’s because in our community, we value impact, and impact comes from taking risks, pushing forward, following your passion, and striving every single day to create art and design that matters.
Each year, those students who exhibit a rare level of mastery and accomplishment in their chosen field are honored with the Excellence Award, the epitome of KCAD student achievement. One student from each program with a graduating class will be recognized at an official ceremony on May 9, and their best work will be put on display during Commencement Week in a special exhibition hosted in the Fed Galleries.
We’re proud to introduce the following students as the 2014 Excellence Award winners:
Courtney Wierzbicki, BFA Interior Design (2014 Valedictorian)
In addition to being an Excellence Award winner, Courtney has been chosen as the 2014 KCAD Valedictorian for her outstanding academic performance, excellence in studio, distinguished service to the college, and student leadership accomplishments.
She is on the President’s List and receives the Kendall Merit Award Scholarship. Her interior design work has been recognized with a first place and owner’s choice award from the West Michigan Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association; a second place finish from the Klise Manufacturing competition; a NeoCon showcase award from the Carnegie Xorel project; and honorable mentions in both the Steelcase NEXT Office Design competition and the Ghiordes Knot rug competition.
Courtney also served as an officer in the IIDA student chapter for the past three years and represented KCAD’s student chapter to the Michigan Chapter IIDA executive board for the past two years. She has been instrumental in connecting students to professional interior design events and in arranging learning opportunities and design exploration between students and design and manufacturing firms.
Design rendering for Steelcase NEXT student design competition by Courtney Wierzbicki (click to enlarge)
Alex Walker, BFA Metals and Jewelry Design
Alex Walker graduates from the Metals/Jewelry Design program as the 2014 Allesee Scholar and Excellence Award winner. His work is primarily technical and formal in nature. He has used his thesis project to follow a number of process ideas generated during his experiments as a sophomore and junior. He is a creative craftsperson, mixing together innovative metal fabrication, plastic casting and carving, and electroforming to create wearable artwork that straddles studio and fine jewelry. Alex’s design practice is integrated into his production process; he is able to convincingly think and communicate in material.
Chris Eitel, BFA Furniture Design
Chris grew up in rural Kirksville, Missouri. Tending toward a modern aesthetic but appreciating traditional styles, Chris explores what lies between the old and new, and tests the boundaries of what it means to be a contemporary designer. He interned with iconic furniture designer Vladimir Kagan in 2013, and accepted an offer to apprentice with him after graduation. He “lives the KCAD life,” always working, somewhere between the furniture studio and the wood shop. He is curious, takes risks, and embraces a “try, try again” strategy of design. His winning record in design competitions includes the Pure Michigan Furniture Competition and the Bienenstock Furniture Library Design Competition.
Erica Lang, BFA Drawing with a Printmaking Focus
Erica transferred to KCAD from Central Michigan University. Her interest in printmaking became the primary focus of her studies here. She has exhibited her work in various regional exhibitions, and in the Portland Area Arts Council exhibit she was awarded "Best in Show Student Work Award." She and her partner run a successful online art and art merchandise business called Woosah that features many of Erica's woodcut images.
Javon Borst, BS Art History
Javon Borst began his studies at KCAD in 2005, but stepped out of his program for several years to serve our country in the U.S. Navy. Javon is interested in Art History from a global perspective, and has taken a total of seven classes in various aspects of world art, as well as two study abroad trips to Egypt and Greece. After graduation he will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Art History.
Jericho Castillo, BFA Digital Media
Jericho's greatest quality is his attitude that drives all his other notable qualities -- talent, creativity, desire to learn, willingness to help, being responsible, hard working, making the most of every opportunity that comes his way, friendly, and respectful. Jericho was the first student to work for KCAD-TV. He has also been a familiar face in the ARC. He participated and volunteered in many activities at KCAD, including Window Wonderland, Bodies of Art, and Artprize, and in the community, including TEDx, WMCAT and Kid's Food Basket.
Joseph Parr, BFA Industrial Design
Joseph Parr is a leader by example in the Industrial Design program at KCAD. Whether working on a studio project or as an intern at Steelcase, Joe is driven to find the most elegant, thoughtful solution. His hard work and creativity on an innovative assistive walker won a design award at the International Housewares Show this spring. Joe has also dedicated his time to supporting a global entrepreneurship initiative in which he helped teach the design process and basic skills to students at the University of Nicaragua. His balanced approach and viewpoint on design are inspirational.
Katherine Throne, BFA Painting
Katherine Throne’s journey at KCAD began after moving here from New Zealand. After several years of study with Interior Design, Katherine took a painting elective, and even though she was well into her interior design studies, chose to change her major. In moving from interior design to fine art painting, Katherine exchanged corporeal interiors for a dream world, where the beaches of New Zealand co-exist with patterns found on suburban kitchen curtains, and colors hover abstractly on the surface of the picture plane. Katherine is currently working towards her MFA at KCAD, and is also the proud mother of two beautiful children.
Kyle Sharkey, BFA Drawing
Kyle Sharkey hails from Millington, Michigan. He arrived at KCAD with a truckload of ambition and a significant amount of charcoal, wood and tar. Adept at combining these elements like a modern day alchemist, Kyle embodies the true meaning of studio excellence. Not limited by convention or restricted by labels, his work encompasses both contemporary and traditional drawing techniques. With a fearless willingness to “follow the mark” and drawing on inwardly significant content, his process results in viscous textures, undulating surfaces and primal familiarity. These qualities make Kyle an outstanding artist and most deserving of the 2014 Excellence Award in Drawing.
Mark Schentzel, BFA Sculpture and Functional Art
Mark Schentzel, a returning student, has shown passion, inquiry, and dedication that act as a beacon to those who know him. As he has progressed through the Sculpture and Functional Art program, Mark was awarded scholarships from Ox Bow School of the Arts and Peters Valley Craft Education Center. He is currently participating in a self-sought internship that is broadening his awareness of opportunities and business practices. His work embraces an interest in environmental stewardship and showcases craftsmanship across a breadth of media.
Matt Fouty, BFA Graphic Design
Matt Fouty came to KCAD after working in the field for more than five years. With his major in Graphic Design, minor in Digital Media, a degree in Web Design and current internship at Steelcase, Matt consistently demonstrates a high level of professionalism. His minimalist and efficient aesthetic speaks to his less-is-more approach. This is not reflected in his more-than-full schedule: married with two young children, he loves Michigan State sports and local micro brews, and has leadership roles in our AIGA Student Chapter and the American Advertising Federation (AAF) of West Michigan. Perhaps he took his viewing of the “Mad Men” drama series a bit too literally!
Olivia Miller, BFA Art Education
Olivia Miller graduated from Jenison High School and worked for the YWCA while she attended KCAD. She assisted battered women, supervised parenting time and oversaw the day camps that served inner-city school children. Through her contacts there she created a professional development event for her Art Education colleagues, bringing in social service experts to teach the group the skills she applied in these often-volatile social situations. The program faculty are proud that Olivia was such an outstanding student teacher that she has been hired in a full-time teaching position even before she officially graduates!
Sara Fahling, BFA Photography
Sara has been on either the President's List or the Dean's List her entire time at KCAD. Just this year, she has exhibited at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts juried Balancing Point show, The Michigan Emerging Graduate Artists (MEGA) juried show at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, and Craft House Gallery's Absence/Presence show. Her senior thesis work, Nostalgia, is a complex and challenging body of art that uses her grandparents’ old farmhouse as a meditation on mortality. It rewards careful examination by the viewer.
Tess Tobolic, BFA Medical Illustration
Tess Tobolic was raised in Wayland Michigan. After high school, she discovered her passion and talent for art and was accepted to KCAD with a Dora Weaver Memorial Scholarship and Kendall's Portfolio Scholarship. She began in Illustration but embraced the Medical Illustration major in its inaugural year. Tess has been on the Dean’s List every year, works full-time at Northern Physical Therapy, and is a Lab Assistant at MSU's cadaver lab. Her studio work has been exemplary, and her willingness to learn and understand the materials and techniques has enabled her to succeed as a student and now as a Medical Illustration professional.
Tim Crecelius, BFA Illustration
Tim Crecelius hails from Troy, Michigan, and came to KCAD as a first-time college student. In his Illustration studies, Tim continuously combined his conceptual knowledge with his extraordinary technical skills. The faculty especially note how great a pleasure it was to enter the studio and view his multiple visual solutions to a verbal or written assignment. One of Tim’s unique qualities is his ability to avoid the obvious, which he uses to increase viewers’ understanding of the images he creates.