Keeling Takes Second Best of Show Honor in Monmouth College Student Art Exhibit


Over the course of three academic years, three different jurors have seen Satyr Keeling’s artworks and come away impressed.

For the second time, a piece by Keeling earned the Best of Show honor at Monmouth College’s Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. The works are on display in the Len G. Everett Gallery on the upper level of Hewes Library through Dec. 7.

Keeling won as a sophomore, also taking home the top honor in drawing. Last year, the senior from St. Louis received the Juror’s Choice award. This year, it was back to Best of Show for the work “Deflowered.”

“This is one of my most symbolic pieces to date,” said Keeling of the intricate colored pencil drawing on Bristol paper. “I wanted it to look like a still-life painting full of symbolic items to match my idea. The main theme for this piece is to capture how it feels to be groomed as a child. I wanted the viewers to see a romantic piece with gorgeous diamond earrings in the center, but as they look closer they can see the nasty things hidden around the gift.”

Those “nasty things” include cigarette butts, insects and a pair of black widow spiders.

“All of the bugs have symbolism, such as listening to your intuition and being careful with who you trust,” said Keeling. “The white roses represent purity and innocence, but since they are dead and wilted, it helps the audience understand how the subject is feeling.”

Keeling said layering the colored pencil was part of a lengthy creative process that ultimately consumed most of a semester.

“I have all of my reference images on my laptop so I can zoom in and see the colors that are in the photos,” he said. “I try to add in every color I can see and I push the pencils down pretty hard to get that shininess on the paper. I worked on it a couple times a week but mostly finished it the night before it was due in ‘Junior Critique.'”

Keeling said he’s grateful to be recognized for his talent.

“These awards mean a lot to me because it shows that even people that I have never met have looked at, analyzed and even admired my artwork,” he said. “My peers and I consider each other playful rivals. We love to joke about who should win what, and we drive each other to continue to create bigger and better things.”

Beyond graduation, Keeling said he doesn’t have many “concrete plans, as I am still finding new things that interest me.”

“In the past semester alone, I’ve picked up interests in botany, theatre and ceramics,” he said. “I would like to travel to different places, make important and interesting art, and try new things. I would like to participate in more plays, enter more art shows and take time to focus on growing as a person. My time at Monmouth has been extremely eye-opening for me, and I feel as though I have more to learn before I make any big decisions regarding my future.”

Other award-winners from the show were:

Juror’s Choice Award: Jennie Nichols ’23 of Galesburg, Illinois
Clay Award: Eli Douglass ’24 of Cary, Illinois
Painting Award: Grace Cornelius ’24 of Warrenville, Illinois
Photography Award: Elikem Ogba ’24 of West Orange, New Jersey
Design Award: Charlie Conkle ’24 of Morton Grove, Illinois
Mixed Media Award: Z Kendall ’24 of Rock Hall, Maryland
Drawing Award: Barton Rodriguez Jr. ’24 of Aledo, Illinois
Sculpture Award: Jeffrey Garrett ’23 of Aledo, Illinois

***Courtesy of Barry McNamara, Monmouth College***

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