Students win $1,000 prize at Voices Art Slam arts and cultural event in Dubuque

September 24, 2013

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. —Three University of Wisconsin-Platteville students won a $1,000 prize at the Voices Art Slam arts and cultural event in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sept. 21. The students included Laura Grotjan, a senior fine art major from Neenah, Wis.; Christina Harris, a senior fine art major from Galena, Ill.; and Michael Ward, a senior fine art major from Madison, Wis.

During the competition, they painted against other student teams from Clarke University, Dubuque; Loras College, Dubuque; St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa; as well as four professional artists. The professional artists included Louise Kames, Will Persell, Amanda Fuller and Monica Balc.

Voices Art Slam, sponsored by Premier Bank, Dubuque, and the Dubuque Museum of Art, was part of a month-long Voices from the Warehouse District art and cultural exhibit held in the 15,000-square-foot Voices Gallery, located on the corner of East 10th and Jackson streets in Dubuque’s Historic Millwork District.

“It was an exciting night,” said Greg Nelson, assistant professor in UW-Platteville’s Department of Performing and Visual Arts. “There was a lot of tough competition and all of the groups did a fantastic job. Our students handled the pressure with pure professionalism and confidence. We are extremely proud of them.”

Teams were informed of this year’s Art Slam theme, Rustbelt Decadence, two weeks prior to the competition. Each team was provided with a 36-inch-by-48-inch gessoed canvas that had a prepared surface for painting, an easel to work on and a $100 stipend for supplies.

Each team had 90 minutes to collaboratively create the best painting possible for this theme, using a variety of mediums. Judges reviewed the paintings and chose the winner based on interpretation and handling of the theme and the artistic quality of the artwork. The top-placed school and the top-placed professional each received $1,000.

“Imagine – the students had to create a collaborative piece of artwork within a very limited amount of time, in an open-air setting in the center of a renovated warehouse, in front of an audience,” said Nelson. “This type of situation would be daunting to many people, but our students were eager to have the opportunity to show their creative skills. It was exciting to see how the painting evolved through the process, into the finished piece.”

“Art Slam was an excellent opportunity for our students to see the type of artwork that other art students and professional artists are creating,” said Nelson. “It was interesting to see the positive way they reacted to this very unique setting as well as how they interpreted the theme.”

Clarke University earned the student People’s Choice award, decided by the audience. Each team had a bucket and audience members placed votes with their money. Clarke University received the most cash votes, so was awarded the student People’s Choice. The other teams took home the money they received in their buckets.

To ensure that the UW-Platteville team was a true reflection of the voice of its art students, the students nominated themselves or others and then voted. Students who received the highest number of votes were chosen for the team.

Contact: Greg Nelson, assistant professor, UW-Platteville Department of Performing and Visual Arts, (608) 342-1442,

Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191,


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