The top five artists in each category were given awards in the 4th Annual Women Artists international online art exhibition. Below are the biographies and/or artist’s statements along with the artist’s websites or emails.
To contact these artists directly for purchase inquiries or to see more of their work, please visit the 4th Annual Women Artists Exhibition page for contact information.
Congratulations again to all the winners and thank you for sharing your talent with us.
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
2nd Place (Traditional) – Susan Currie - "Iceland" – oil
I was a textile designer for many years in home furnishing where I developed my love of patterns and color. Now I devote my time to my pencil drawing and oil painting using my own photos from my travels around the world. One of my pencil drawings was featured in strokes of genius 12 competition by Artists magazine and American artist. I exhibited in some local galleries and now looking to expand my audiences.
Susan can be reached via her Email.
2nd Place (Photography & Digital) - Esther Byrt - "The Storm Shall Pass" – digital
Esther Byrt is an award winning artist who experimented with sketching in various mediums and later ventured into oil, acrylic and watercolour painting. Ah, but when she discovered digital art she finally found the niche she loves. Now she has the means to use her passion for art and photography together and the techniques to combine them into her vision.
Esther’s website is www.estherbyrt.ca
2nd Place (3 Dimensional) - Nina Luna - "Apocalypse Rising 2025" – mixed media on fiberglass
This Story is how breast cancer changed my life. I am a two time breast cancer survivor I was diagnosed Oct 2011 and have been in remission since Feb. 2014 I chose painting the upper half of the female torso as a healing process from the loss of both breasts and then graduated to a full torso.
I’d really never looked at the female body as beautiful. Painting them helps me embrace who I am as a woman and being if not more beautiful now, then I was with breasts. Each piece tells a story of where I was when going through cancer, where I have gone, to where I am.
With my first piece (The Garden of Eden), my rebirth begins my reflection on my Journey and now reflects how I have grown as a Woman, Survivor and an Artist
Nina’s website is http://ninaluna-art.com
3rd Place (Traditional) – Cher Pruys - "Beach Baby" – acrylic
Cher Pruys was born in Regina. Over the years she lived in many places including Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Fort Frances, settling into her present home in Devlin, on the banks of the Rainy River with her husband Mark, 4 dogs and 2 cats.
By age three, Cher was seldom found without a drawing tool in hand. She worked in pencil, charcoal and ink over the years, until, she picked up a paintbrush at the age of 35. Beginning with oil paints, she found her chosen mediums in acrylic, water color and gouache.
Although self-taught, her dedication and talent has seen her work juried into 99 International exhibits, as well as exhibits in numerous non juried shows. She has won 75 awards for her work at the International Juried Exhibits. Included in these awards, the first recipient of a major Canadian National Award, The Mary Pratt Crystal Award of Excellence at the 2014 SCA Open Juried Exhibition, The SCA 1st place award of distinction twice respectively, 2016, and 2017 at The Canada’s 150 show. The Gold Medal recipient for Figurative Painting in The Mondial Art Academia’s International 2018 Competition. The Aviation Week & Space Technology Award Best of the Best, and the ASAA Award of Distinction for the best painting in the ASAA International Space & Technology Exhibit & Competition, consecutively for 2 years. She has had 14 solo exhibits. Cher is also an avid fused glass artist, and a certified teacher of piano and guitar.
Her painting “The Bubble” had the honour of being part of the Masterworks from The International Guild of Realism Tour. She was elected to the American Society of Aviation Artists as an artist member in 1996, and eventually was elected as a Foreign Affiliate Artist Fellow, one of only two Canadians receive this honour. Her work has graced the covers of 3 books, 14 magazines, and has-been featured in over 50 international publications. Cher’s works have found a permanent home in private and public collections worldwide.
Cher’s artistic style can be described as Realism with a hint of Abstract in her latest works.
Cher’s website is www.artbycher.ca
3rd Place (Photography & Digital) - Roxy McHaffey - "Spaceport" – digital photo manipulation
My work focuses on creating alternate representations of reality using photography as the source material. I take photographs whose sense of space is already ambiguous and create a new reality through digital manipulation and image collage. I turn the photograph into a digital pallet, and use the original source material to construct a new image, world, or reality that blurs the lines between photography, painting and collage.
Roxy’s website is www.roxoutofthebox.com
3rd Place (3 Dimensional) - Jae Holstein - "The Ashley Basket" – fiber pine needle basketry
Jae Holstein, Newberry FL artist, is best known for her satisfyingly rhythmic and impressively detailed pine needle baskets. Holstein works in a variety of mediums. Her current focus is basketry which includes the pine needles, thread, agates, beads and clay. Holstein manipulates pine needles by using her own adapted coiling technique to create a tighter coil and ultimately a denser more malleable sculpture. Her use of negative space, repetition, shape and color enhance the dynamic and unusual form of her skillfully coiled baskets. Some of Holstein’s designs are carefully planned while other designs emerge in the process through experimentation and play. Holstein’s unique designs are often inspired by patterns found in nature, particularly trees.
One of the reasons Holstein was attracted to basketry is the emotional experience provided by the coiling. Holstein’s process requires arduous repetition and intense focus which the artist describes as therapeutic. Holstein is also influenced by her Native American heritage. Pine needle coiling is one of the oldest basket weaving techniques known and was practiced wherever pine needles were present. Holstein refers to her basket coiling as spiritual activity which allows her to a feel connected to the sisterhood of basket weaving history. Holstein has been involved in creative endeavors her entire life.
She was born in Charleston, West Virginia. From years Holstein attended Cobb County Center for Excellence in Performing Arts High School in Roswell, Georgia. During her time at the performing arts high school Holstein majored in vocal performance. She continued her creative interests by majoring in music at Graceland University, years. In a year Holstein honed additional creative skills by learning to airbrush while working in a collective under Rick Cain, sculptor. During college Holstein also became interested in culinary arts. She pursued this interest by moving to Gainesville, FL and worked as a chef for several years. Jae Holstein’s work has been featured in many regional and national galleries.
Jae’s website is http://contemporarysouthernpinesartistry.com
4th Place (Traditional) – Feng Fei - "Make a Wish" – tempera
Feng Fei is a professional advertiser, designer and artist. She has won various art awards in the United States, Canada, and Europe. She was born into an artistic family in Beijing. Her father was an artist and her first art teacher. She majored in advertising design in university, then worked for a 4A advertising agency of Japan called DENTSU for more than 10years.
In 2021, she graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts. She was awarded ‘Best in Show’ for Traditional Art in 6th Annual Cityscapes Art Competition held by Fusion Art in July 2021. Her artwork was approved for inclusion in the 2021 Annual international Representation Exhibition held by Federation of Canadian Artists. She won the HONORABLE MENTION AWARD in the 2021 “Open” Art Exhibition held by Helvet Art in Geneva, Switzerland in Oct. 2021.
Feng Fei can be reached via her Email.
4th Place (Photography & Digital) - Sara Victoria Sandberg - "The Explorers" – digital photo artistry
Sara Victoria Sandberg is a photo composite artist based in Stockholm. To go beyond the boundaries of the real world and to create imaginative scenes has always been her wish. The skill in digital technique in combination with her own photography and vision enables Sara to create artwork full of imagination, beauty and mystery.
Sara has developed a personal style in her work where she combines photography and digital painting with her artistic vision. The practice of drawing and watercolours throughout the years are skills that have served to shape her painterly thinking and translate it into the digital medium. The creation of mood and atmosphere is a recurring theme. Animals are often used as a vehicle to take the story forward.
Sara works with light and shadow to carefully mold and craft the scene she visualizes into a finished piece adopting a combination of photo-realism and painterly style. Sara is an international award winning artist and has received wide recognition for her work in several publications and photography magazines.
Sara’s website is www.saravictoriasandberg.com
4th Place (3 Dimensional) - Liu Yue - "Badashan Statue" – purple clay
Liu Yue is a member of Jiangsu Sculptor Association and a researcher at the Ceramic Art Institute of Yangzhou University. Her purple sand sculpture "The Centenary Statue of Elder Delin of Gaomin Temple" was collected by the National Art Museum of China. The sculpture purple sand sculpture "The Prime Minister of the People" won the gold medal of the 10th "Yibo Cup" Craft Boutique Competition and was collected by Zhou Enlai Memorial Hall.
What is important is that she discovers the traditional craftsmanship of purple sand, combines the aesthetics of contemporary art, and develops the core of the traditional craftsmanship of purple sand, the "mud sheet forming" technique, and expands the new meaningful contemporary sculpture art form. It is undoubtedly a pioneering and important art. Practice has changed the inherent generation mode of sculpture art and opened a broader space for definition of sculpture art.
Liu Yue can be reached via her Email.
5th Place (Traditional) – Suqin Lu - "The Outside World" – pencil sketch
I’m always with a tremendous interest when towards classicism art. At first, I was only an explorer and researcher in the field of Chinese meticulous brushwork, and lately, I have been surprised by the light and texture overpainting from the west side of the world, so to merge unique elements from artworks from both west and east side of the world. But instead of the socialization of mankind, the nature of the wild animals still makes me feel more touched.
Suqin Lu can be reached via her Email.
5th Place (Photography & Digital) - Barbara Klimczak - "Parisian Hat Model" – digital photography
I have been enjoying photography for the past 7 years, Retirement has allowed me the time to study different genres and take classes at my local photo club. I enjoy competing as a way to learn and encourage myself to do better.
Barbara’s work can be seen on her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Barb-K-Photography
5th Place (3 Dimensional) - Yolanda Winfield - "Nguni Bull" – metal
Yolanda Winfield was born in 1972 in South Africa. She is a self-taught visual artist and she works exclusively with metal. Her was first introduced to metal work was in England, 2002. She found employment at a boat yard, and over a period of 10 years working in the boat building industry, she acquired many engineering skills that form the foundation of her artwork today.
After a total of 20 years living in the UK, Yolanda returned to South Africa for family reasons. Due to difficulties in finding employment as a women within the SA construction industry, Yolanda turned her hand to making steel sculptures instead.
The sculptures are constructed using 4mm, mild steel round bar. Hundreds of individual pieces are cut and shaped into the desired form, then welded together and polished to a high shine to create unique one of a kind works.
The magic of the sculptures are all about the medium. The richness and the beauty of the metal embodies a vibrant energy that creates a powerful presence.
Yolanda’s website is www.yolandawinfield.com
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