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Thursday, April 2, 2015 12:01 am

Images of Illinois

Prairie Art Alliance announces juried photography contest winners

Adult Amateur – People 1st Place & Best In Show – “The Blacksmith” by RT McDonald

Click Here to view all the Images of Illinois 2015 winners

From Chicago’s tallest towers to Lincoln’s log cabins, across the sweeping plains, through rivers, streets, rails and woods, the submissions for the Prairie Art Alliance’s fourth annual Images of Illinois contest came from throughout the Prairie State.

Prairie Art Alliance gallery manager and contest director Corrin McWhirter received 215 submissions falling into four categories, with each category breaking into subcategories of people or places/things. The four categories were adult professional, adult amateur, youth (13-17) and youth (12 and under). The entries were juried by a panel of three local professional photographers who spent a late-March afternoon scoring the entries and writing feedback for contestants.  

To be eligible, photos had to have been taken within the state of Illinois between February 2014 and February 2015. There was no limit on the number of photos that contestants could submit, and no restrictions on usage of Photoshop, filters and other enhancements. As a result, jurors had a wide body of work to choose from. Said one juror, “There were some very strong photographs in this group. We really liked that we saw a wide range of techniques and experimentation.”

The winning photos can be viewed here in print and online at illinoistimes.com, as well as on display April 2 through 23 at the Prairie Art Alliance gallery in the Hoogland Center for the Arts. In addition to having their photos displayed, the best in show and first place adult professional and adult amateur winners will be awarded cash prizes. The youth first-place winners will be presented with gift certificates to local businesses.

Best in Show went to the first-place winner of the amateur people category, RT McDonald, whose shot “The Blacksmith,” taken at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, blew away all three jurors. “There is great detail in the shadows and wonderful sharpness, but the motion blur is used perfectly to define the action,” according to one judge. Another couldn’t get over the artist’s ability to draw complex detail out of such low light. “Everything is in focus, which is amazing given the low light conditions.”

Jurors were also impressed with “Nonstop,” by Springfield photographer Seth Adams, which took first place in the amateur places/things division. The photograph, which features a moving train shot from the platform of Springfield’s Amtrak station, is an astounding illustration of technical skill. “This is amazing. The stillness on one side and the blur on the other really make this photo great.”

One youth’s submission was so technically solid that jurors requested confirmation of the age of the artist from the Prairie Art Alliance, which carefully screens and vets each entry to ensure proper consideration. It turns out the photographer, Kyle Jones, is 16, well within the 13-17 age range for the youth category. His photo, “Hanging,” depicts a bee pollinating a flower, and took first place in the youth places/things category. Judges were impressed by Jones’ ability to capture such a peaceful moment along with his usage of a clean background, which “really took this photo to the next level.”

The public is invited to view the winning photographs throughout the month of April and at the Images of Illinois contest reception and awards ceremony on Thursday, April 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Prairie Art Alliance’s H.D. Smith Gallery located in the Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 S. Sixth Street. The event is free and open to the public.

The Prairie Art Alliance is a nonprofit visual arts organization committed to supporting emerging and established artists of all ages. The Prairie Art Alliance offers regular classes and exhibits at the H.D. Smith Gallery in the Hoogland Center for the Arts. The gallery is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, from noon to 7 p.m., and during the intermissions of performances at the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

For more information about the Prairie Art Alliance or the annual Images of Illinois photography contest, visit  http://prairieart.org.  

Contact Nan Bulli at nbulli@illinoistimes.com.  

Winning Photographs from Images of Illinois 2015

Adult Professional – People 1st Place – “Reflection” by Sarah Pointer


Adult Professional – People

1 – “Reflection” by Sarah Pointer
2 – “Lincoln” by Gil Lebois
3 – “Pinky” by Gil Lebois
HM – “Contemplation” by Sarah Pointer

Adult Professional – Places/Things 1st Place - “Illinois State Capitol 2AM Snow Storm” by Mark McCann


Adult Professional – Places/Things

1 – “Illinois State Capitol 2AM Snow Storm” by Mark McCann
2 – “Hartsburg Sunset” by Randy Washam
3 – “Wild Ice” by Ramona Boston
HM – “Weird Weather” by Ramona Boston
HM – “Thanksgiving Day Chatham Covered Bridge” by Mark McCann

Adult Amateur – People 1st Place & Best In Show – “The Blacksmith” by RT McDonald


Adult Amateur – People

1 – “The Blacksmith” by RT McDonald
2 – “The Fastest Boys in Town” by Grace Tierney
3 – “Frostbite” by Brianna Skeels
HM – “The Carillonneur” by June Stricker

Adult Amateur – Places/Things 1st Place - “Nonstop” by Seth Adams


Adult Amateur – Places/Things

1 – “Nonstop” by Seth Adams
2 – “Capitol Street Reflection” by Brian Bowles
3 – “Lace in the Sun” by Melinda Garner
HM  - “Geese” by Susan Lyons
HM – “Ghosts of Progress” by Adam Perschbacher

Children (13-17) – People 1st Place – “Ocean-like Reflections” by Lillian Cox


Children (13-17) – People

1 – “Ocean-like Reflections” by Lillian Cox
2 – “Free” by Jessica Freeman
3 – “The Floating Bride in Washington Park” by Jessica Freeman
HM – “Eyes” by Rebecca Heckel
HM – “Virginia” by Rebecca Heckel

Children (13-17) – Places/Things 1st Place – “Hanging” by Kyle Jones


Children (13-17) – Places/Things

1 – “Hanging” by Kyle Jones
2 – “Chicago” by Grayce Lillpop
3 – “Wildlife Wolves” by Kyle Jones
HM – “Unfurling Pinecone” by Michelle Essig
HM – “Hanging in There” by Kyle Jones

Children (12 & under) – Places/Things 1st Place - “Edwards Place” by Blair Perkins


Children (12 & under) – Places/Things

1 – “Edwards Place” by Blair Perkins
2 – “To INFINITY and BEYOND” by Catherine Comerford
3 – “Kaleidoscope” by Blair Perkins
HM – “Flower” by Ellie Krehbiel
HM – “Rails” by Blair Perkins


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