Dan Chen's sculpture and painting "Blessed Assurance" won the Best of Show award for the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine's 24th International Exhibition on Animals in Art.
Dan Chen used his mix of painting and sculpture of an eagle and two young offspring as metaphor for his and his wife's religious faith.
The piece, "Blessed Assurance," connects brush painting of two young eagles on semitranslucent silk with a frame made of a cut and polished section of burled wood topped with a bronze eagle. The artist from Eugene, Ore., had been caring for his wife, Michelle Liu, during her fight with cancer, and he said the relationship between the eagle and its young represented the couple's reliance on, and trust in, God.
On March 26, the mixed-media artwork won the Best of Show award at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine's 24th International Exhibition on Animals In Art. Liu died April 4.
The piece was one of 74 displayed during the exhibition March 26-April 24. Pieces selected for the show were among more than 500 submitted.
Diane D. Mason, president of the Society of Animal Artists and judge of the 2011 exhibition, said the event brought world-class entries, giving her a difficult task in choosing the award winners. She praised Chen's sculpture for its quality and unusual mix of media.
"There is no one else anywhere that I know of that is doing work like this, and it was exquisitely done," Mason said. "So it was a hands-down winner for Best of Show."
The veterinary school had received more than $2,000 in commissions from the sale of 17 pieces before the end of April.
Christine R. Mitchell, director of the School of Veterinary Medicine Library, said proceeds from the exhibition help the school pay for improvement projects, such as the rehabilitation of a consultation room used by clinicians. Proceeds from the 2010 exhibition, along with donations, were used to replace tile, add a carpet, repaint walls, replace lights, and replace furniture in the room used to talk with clients about sensitive topics. An exhibition participant, Anni Crouter, also donated a painting of a swan on a lake to hang in the room.
"It's a great way for the art show to give back to the school," Mitchell said.
Crouter, of Flint, Mich., also won one of the five Judge's Awards in the 2011 exhibition for her acrylic painting of a wolf, "Stargazer."
Dr. Kurt J. Matushek, JAVMA editor-in-chief and director of the AVMA Publications Division, chose "The Shepherd of Brie" to appear on the cover of this issue of JAVMA. The pastel depicts a Briard with four sheep in a tan and green pasture; it was created by Debbie Hughbanks of Loon Lake, Wash.
"I love the composition of this work but was especially drawn to it because of the depiction of a dog doing what it was bred to do," Dr. Matushek said.
Margaret Rice's painting, "Izzy," won the People's Choice Award. In addition to Crouter's painting, the following artworks won Judge's Awards: "Specks," by John Kobald of Meeker, Colo.; "Down to Water," by Laney of Crowheart, Wyo.; "Louisiana Heron," by Booth Malone of Midland, Ga.; and "Respite," by Jeanette Martone of Deer Park, N.Y. Ten other pieces received Honorable Mentions.