The people have spoken. Brittany Kunkel has just won the People’s Choice Award, an exclusive recognition conferred during this year’s AICUO Awards for Excellence in the Visual Arts. A senior from Yardley, Pa., Kunkel was one of 19 top artists chosen as entrants in the contest, which included contenders from the Columbus College of Art and Design and the Art Academy of Cincinnati. The sponsoring organization of the annual art competition is the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Ohio.
“I try to blur the line between the reality of life and the fantastical perfection of childhood fairy tales,” said Kunkel. “My artwork is a combination of painting and photography. It attempts to portray the once-upon-a-time that doesn’t necessarily work out perfectly in the end.”
Carrie Olson, chair of the Department of Studio Art at Denison, speaks highly of the art and the artist. “I have found Brittany to be ambitious, thoughtful, and extremely motivated,” Olson says. “She is a serious and gifted painter. And she is also a risk taker—willing to experiment and try new things in her work and push the work into uncomfortable territory, rather than just sticking with what works, what is easy—this is something that one wishes for in every art student.”
And while it might be enough for some to spend their hours in the studio and then go home, Kunkel has found ways to parley her creative talents into doing good for others, reaching as far as Philadelphia with some of her endeavors. Olson notes that Brittany created her own non-profit art program in 2007, Create to Inspire, where she conducts arts and craft workshops for patients of all ages and leaves personalized art kits for long-term patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Nationwide Children’s Hospital of Columbus.
Kunkel has joined her creativity and service with the spirit of an entrepreneur as well. She already has her own fashion accessories and clothing company, Brittany Eliza Fashions, and she uses proceeds from that business endeavor to fund her Create to Inspire projects.
Kunkel, along with other awardees, will have her artwork on view at the AICUO Walking Exhibition as a part of Gallery Hop in the Short North District of High Street, Columbus, on Saturday, May 5.