4th Annual Women Artists Best in Show Winners

Visit the 4th Annual Women Artists Art Exhibition HERE.

Best in Show (Traditional) – Monique McFarland – “The Cowboy” – watercolor

Biography: Monique McFarland has had a passion for art as far back as she can remember. During childhood and adolescence, Monique won awards in local art competitions with her sketches of familiar faces. As a young adult, she joined an evening art course at the University of South Alabama. At that time, she chose watercolor, which allowed her mind’s eye to finally create in color. After spending a few years painting custom watercolor abstracts for friends and family, and sketching the occasional portrait, she met a wonderful man, got married, and started her own family, making the decision to put her art work away for a while.

After years of room-mothering, carpooling and Little-Leaguing, Monique decided it was time to re-discover the God-given talent that had lain dormant for so many years. She joined a group of artists who met weekly at a local gallery, where she began to work in watercolor again, only this time, it was not abstracts that were flowing from the brush, but realistic works of art. Beginning with flowers and landscapes, Monique then moved on to portraits, the work she had been drawn to all her life. The moment she completed her first portrait, she knew she had found her calling. Monique is able to truly ‘see’ the person she is trying to portray. While capturing her subjects’ features, the physical traits that make a person an individual, she also works to reveal their soul. This is what true heirloom portraiture is all about. Along the way she has expanded her work to include oil, acrylic, graphite and mixed media Bas-Relief.

Monique is now a sought-after commissioned artist, working out of her private studio in Mobile, AL. Her artwork can be found in several private collections in and around the US. Notably, she was commissioned to paint the portrait of Tim Tebow, former University of Florida standout and Heisman Trophy winner, which was autographed by him and sold at auction for an annual leadership fundraiser.

Born in 1968 in Landstuhl, Germany to US Air Force parents, Monique’s family moved back to their home state of Louisiana in 1970, then ultimately to Mobile, AL in 1979, where she still resides today with her husband Jeff.  

Artist Statement: Having had no formal art training, I consider my artistic ability a true gift, and feel blessed to pass that gift on to others, thru each piece I create.

Monique’s website is http://moniquemcfarland.com

Best in Show (Photography & Digital) – Barbara Mierau-Klein – “The Raven” – digital photo collage

Barbara Mierau-Klein is a digital artist recognized for her multi-layered, imaginative and colorful fine art images. A native of Germany, Barbara lives in the Washington, D.C. area but often travels the world as a passionate landscape and nature photographer since her teenage years.

Much of Barbara’s work is highly stylized and focuses on beautiful moments and evocative moods across a wide range of subjects. The inspiration for her images comes from many sources, often her own nature photography, but also books, song lyrics, movies, and works of other artists, old masters as well as contemporary digital artists.

Barbara’s work has been exhibited in a number of galleries in the US and Europe and has received numerous awards. Her images also appear regularly in international art magazines. Barbara is represented locally by Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, MD.

Barbara’s website is www.barbaramierauklein.com

Best in Show (3 Dimensional) – Karen Russo – “Spirit’s Cradle” – stoneware, casein, acrylic

Karen Russo is a figurative ceramic sculptor who lives and works in the lush green foothills of 
western Oregon. She chooses clay as her primary medium because of its malleability, capacity for transformation, and direct connection to the earth.

Over the years, Karen has developed and honed a unique method of layering materials, textures, and color that lends her work a rich, organic quality. Beginning with stoneware or earthenware clay, she hand builds each sculpture from coil, slabs, or a solid mass of clay. The figure is then cut into multiple sections, hollowed, compressed, and then reassembled. Karen carves patterns and textures into the clay before it undergoes a slow bisque fire that can last up to a week. She then uses underglazes, clay paint, casein, acrylic, wax, or a combination thereof to lay imagery onto each figure’s singular surface. Her color palette echoes the places that inspire her; from the ocean to the forests, the desert to the mountains, of the extraordinary Pacific Northwest.

The resulting sculptures depict women that seem to originate from numerous different eras and geographical origins, but all of which explore the tensions of the feminine experience: strength and contemplation, youth and aging, joy and grief, instability and equilibrium, hope and despair. Through these maternal archetypes, so evocative of the precious earth from which they were formed, Karen hopes to express an eternal optimism for the human spirit in this beautiful, and turbulent world.

Karen Russo received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of California Santa Cruz in 1982. From 1986 to 1987 she studied under Paul Buckner at the University of Oregon MFA 
Program, with a concentration in Figure Sculpture. She has since furthered her studies with renowned sculptors Beth Cavener, Adrian Arleo, Alessandro Gallo, and Cristina Cordova.

You can view more of Karen’s sculptures by visiting her website: www.karenrusso.studio


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