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Freshman Grady wins Best of Show at Juried Art Exhibit

Barry McNamara
11/18/2019
"Elli-rat," the Best of Show recipient at the College's Juried Art Exhibit, was created by Elliott Grady '23 of Plainfield, Ill.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – The recognition that freshman Elliott Grady of Plainfield, Ill., received at Monmouth College’s Juried Art Exhibition on Nov. 15 wasn’t the first time his work has been honored, and it almost certainly won’t be the last.

Entered in his first exhibit at Monmouth, Grady won Best of Show for “Elli-rat,” a small polymer clay piece he created as a “self-reflection” portrait for the “Arts and Ideas” foundations course taught by art professor Janis Wunderlich.

“He actually broke the rules for the assignment by using clay,” said Wunderlich. “But he did such an exquisite job of breaking the rules that I gave him permission. His projects often go beyond the parameters, but he does it so well, so I encourage him to push the limits.”

Grady even pushes the limits in his spare time, doing the work for another Monmouth art class in which he’s not enrolled.

“I don’t do it for credit,” he said. “It’s just for fun.”

Grady realized in sixth grade that art was the key to his future.

“I watched the (John Travolta and Nicholas Cage) movie Face/Off, and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” he said of special effects art.

His goal is to work in special effects make up or potentially do reconstructive art in forensics.

In middle school, Grady was involved in band, so his schedule was too full for an art class, but his artwork began to take off in high school, especially a work he did as a junior.

“I made a hermit crab out of porcelain clay, and its shell was a skeleton skull,” said Grady. “It won a lot of awards, and it helped me get some scholarships.”

On a visit to Monmouth to pursue one of those scholarships, Grady liked the College’s small-school feel, and he appreciated that art faculty pulled his parents aside and told them how impressed they were with him.

It didn’t take long for Grady to fit in to the Monmouth art department.

“On the first day I was here, (junior) Ryan Dawson came up to me and said, ‘I heard you’re a sculptor. We’re going to see a lot of each other,’” he said. “Now he’s my best friend and a big mentor for me.”

Monmouth alumna Cassie Tangney ’08, a designer and illustrator from Des Moines, Iowa, served as juror for the exhibit, which will be on display in the Everett Gallery in Hewes Library through Dec. 4.

“Keep making art,” she told the Monmouth students gathered at the award ceremony. “It’s hard and it’s vulnerable, but it’s worth it.”

Also receiving awards at the ceremony were:

• Ceramics: Ryan Dawson ’21 of Monmouth, “Grace”

• Drawing: Abhi Jouhal ’19 of Jalandhar, India, “Hell Is Hot”

• Mixed Media: Vivian Pham ’19 of Dunlap, Ill., “Save the Bees”

• Painting: Amy Vellenga-Buban ’20 of Monmouth, “Broken Down”

• Photography: C.J. Bonifer ’22 of Columbia, Ky., “Laughable”

• Sculpture: Brooke Hazelwood ’20 of Pekin, Ill., “Floyd”