Art Students Bring Home the Gold


by Ali O'Neal, English major

The JSU Department of Art and Design was well represented at the 2020 ADDY Awards. The competition, hosted by the Birmingham Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, awarded nine ADDYs to JSU art students. 

Stefanie Cobb, a recent MFA graduate of JSU, won a Gold ADDY at the Regional Level (District 7) for her Ex Libris Subscription Box. She explained that her work was derived from her thesis, “EX LIBRIS: Reimagining the Literary Experience through Artifactual Storytelling and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.” 

Her thesis advisor, Department Head Seth Johnson, said that “during her MFA thesis, Stephanie showed her ability to take a complex concept and synthesize it down to an understandable visual form.” Her work, Johnson said, “evolved significantly over the year-long process and included multiple iterations that improved with each pass.”

Her project used “materiality and the power of objects as meaning makers” to explore the modes of literary experience. Cobb explained that “the purpose is to build a ‘mental’ library of experiences, perspectives, and philosophies through the literary experience that can help foster the imagination and mind in order to communicate with and understand the world through reading fiction.” Ultimately, the goal of the project was to “help people become more effective communicators,” Cobb concluded.  Her entry, having won at the Regional Level, will continue to the National Level and compete with over 40,000 entries competing in 200 markets around the US.

The Department of Art and Design is proud to announce that following her MFA thesis, Cobb was the first MFA candidate to graduate from the program and be hired in a tenure-track teaching position at a four-year institution.

The 2020 ADDY Award jurors also selected 24 student works from JSU, UAB and Samford, awarding Gold ADDYs to Abby Deason and Abigail Read. Art major Abby Deason received a Gold ADDY for a branding project that she created in one of her graphic design courses. “Guppy gear is a fishing company based in Key West, FL,” she said, describing the company for which she designed. “Key West is a tropical place, so I wanted to stick with that theme by using bright colors and organic shapes in the patterns.” 

Art major Abigail Read won two gold ADDYs for her photographic artwork. The first Gold ADDY that Read received was for her photograph titled “The Beekeeper.” Read said that it was a “self-initiated project” in one of her photo classes, serving both as a “self-portrait and the beginning of an ongoing series.” Read also won a Gold ADDY for her photographic series titled “The Three Graces,” which is composed of a set of three photos. Read created this work during her studio lighting class, seeking to “create a dramatic series of images that use light to set the mood.”

In addition to these Gold ADDYs, six Silver ADDYs were awarded to JSU art students, including Richie Rivas (and crew from group project), Alden Guinn, Savannah Meek, Abigail Read, Stefanie Cobb and Kaylee Russell.