In 2008, artists from the Center for Contemporary Arts were looking for a way to mentor young artists and give them an opportunity to exhibit their work in a public gallery space. Thus, the Intercollegiate Student Art Competition, ISAC for short, was born.
Russell Ellison chaired the committee establishing this competition and felt strongly that creating a venue for student art was beneficial to The Center as well as to area university art students.
“As a young artist and former art teacher, I remember how important it was to get your work in an exhibit and this exhibition allowed for this,” he said.
ISAC will be in its 11th year when the competition kicks off in January. Some exciting changes are happening in 2020, as the competition will be open to not only Abilene university art students, but to regional ones as well. Tarleton State, Angelo State and Howard Payne University are also invited to participate in the competition this year.
Jonathan Carroll, CCA executive director, said that “by expanding the show this year, The Center is acknowledging that it is a regional, and not just local, influence on the contemporary art market. This broader scope will increase the competitive nature, and therefore the overall quality of the show, giving students an exhibit that they can truly be proud to participate in.”
Monk’s Coffee Shop is sponsoring this year’s competition, allowing for an increase in winning prize amounts in order to incentivize participation. The exhibition will also be on display a month longer at The Center than it has in past years.
Kathie Walker-Millar, CCA artist member president and chair of the McMurry University Art Department, said that the competition is “extremely important for the students’ resumes to compete in juried shows, especially if they are going on to graduate school. The competition gives us an instrument to measure our students.”
Braeden Kuppin, Hardin-Simmons graduate and CCA Artist Member, participated in the competition three years in a row while in undergrad. In 2019, Kuppin won first place in the photography category, which allowed for a year-long membership in the Center’s Artist Membership.
“The competition is a good way of getting your work out there, if nothing else,” Kuppin said. “I believe for many students in my classes it was also the first show they ever submitted work to, which made it a good introduction to standard show procedure.”
ISAC 2020 will be at The Center for Contemporary Arts in the upstairs gallery space from Jan. 23 to March 28, with the awards and reception at ArtWalk on Feb. 13.