Watkins College of Art at Belmont University presented senior Claire Gurley with the inaugural Walter and Sarah Knestrick Award for her project, “Coming In.”
The $5,000 award is designed for a senior student to pursue creative endeavors after graduation including studio art, research, art/designed-based businesses, arts-related community engagement projects, among others.
“This scholarship is a huge benefit to our students, and we are so grateful for the generous gift from Walter and Sarah Knestrick that will benefit students for years to come,” said Watkins College of Art Dean James Pierce. “We know that everyone’s artistic journey is different and in the College of Art, we strive to help prepare students for this lifelong and exciting career path. This award will help jumpstart a student’s post-graduation creative endeavor. I’m excited to see what Claire creates over the next year and look forward to inviting her back to Belmont to discuss and showcase her project with current students.”
Gurley’s project, “Coming In,” will explore six topics within sexuality where she will create artwork and an accompanying podcast. Her project seeks to open a dialogue with teens and young adults about topics that might be uncomfortable to talk about elsewhere.
“I believe Ms. Gurley’s project will yield positive results for her artistic ecosystem and beyond by creating a safe space and platform for difficult conversations that generation after generation of young adults and parents struggle with,” said project juror Mike Mitchell, Art Director for Maury County Public Schools. “Pairing an exhibition of paintings and a podcast that simultaneously tackles positive strategies for appropriately discussing sexuality and challenging historically negative practices across a broad group of ages is an inventive approach to an investigation that is critical to this generation of young adults.”
“I am so honored and humbled to be able to do something I’m so passionate about right after graduating,” reflected Gurley. “Throughout my time at Belmont, I’ve been building up the tools to be a better artist, communicator and contributor to my community. This project is an amazing opportunity for me to put those tools to work.”