This year's artists were handpicked by Arizona Citizens for the Arts through a collaborative process with our member organizations, board members and first-hand research.
The artwork, provided as awards to each of the honorees, is underwritten by the Arizona Lottery.
Aurora Berger is a photography student at Prescott College in Prescott, AZ. She splits her time between Prescott and her hometown of Strafford, VT. She studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design before deciding to step away from the more commercial part of the art world and transferring to Prescott College to pursue developing her personal work further.
As an artist with a visual disability, Aurora’s artwork is a reflection of how she sees the world. Her pieces focus on the colors, depth, and immersion in the environment of her work. Aurora works primarily in portraiture, but recently has been experimenting with landscape and abstracted work.
Aurora's artwork was chosen to be the official image of the 2016 Governor's Arts Awards through a call for artwork released to all Arizona colleges and universities. The digital reproduction of the image is represented as the cover for the commemorative program as well as the formal invitations.
Christine Cassano is a full-time artist who lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona. Born and raised on the coast of Southern Virginia, she attended both Virginia Commonwealth University and Old Dominion University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2001. Just as her art had been focused on exploring contrasting ideas, Christine applied this approach to her own life and shortly after graduation, she relocated west – from the ocean shore in Virginia to the Sonoran desert in Phoenix.
Christine’s studio is located in the warehouse district of downtown Phoenix. She exhibits her work locally, regionally and nationally. Her current work explores interdependent biological systems and their relationships to external technologies and industrial environments – a hybridization of biology and technology. She works in a large variety materials and processes to fabricate her mixed media wall pieces, installations and assemblage sculptures.
Christine and her work have been featured in several local and regional publications and her art has been featured on the covers of two nationally published books. Her art works and installations have been commissioned by a number of architectural firms, law firms and hospitals.
Merlin L. Cohen, born in Memphis, TN in 1937, retired from his full time dental practice in 1992 to pursue his interest in sculpture. It is an acute attention to detail that made Merlin a successful dentist and has led to his popularity as an artist.
Merlin studied sculpting under the personal instruction of recognized sculptor Ralph Hurst. He has also studied at the Montoya/MAS Famous Sculptors Seminar and annually attends the Marble Institute of Colorado to carve marble and study.
Merlin’s art is enjoyed in private and public collections worldwide and has been featured in local, regional, and national publications. He has been featured in the Sculpture Journal, the Arizona Daily Star and on Tucson Channel 12's Sonoran Style program.
He was selected as an Emerging Artist of 2005" by art & antiques magazine. After being juried into the Loveland, Colorado “Sculpture in the Park” show in 2005 and 2006, he has been invited to participate in the 2007 through 2016 shows. In 2007 he was recognized with the Industry Award in the Sculpture Only Competition held by Sculptural Pursuit magazine. Also in 2007, he was juried into the Royal British Society of Sculptors. In 2012 he installed his sculpture “Berceuse” in the New Mexico Museum of Art.
Christopher Colville is an artist working to push the boundaries of the photographic medium in both experimental and traditional forms. Born in 1974 in Tucson, Arizona, Christopher received his BFA in Anthropology and Photography from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and his MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico.
After leaving New Mexico, he returned home to the Sonoran Desert and is currently living in Phoenix. Chris has spent his time in Phoenix exploring the desert where he has taught in multiple institutions including as a visiting Assistant Professor at Arizona State University as well as working as the photography editor for Prompt Press.
Christopher’s work has been included in both national and international publications and exhibitions. Recent awards include the Ernst Cabat Award through the Tucson Museum of Art, Critical Mass top 50, the Humble Art Foundations New Photography Grant, an Arizona Commission on the Arts Artist Project Grant, a Public Art Commission from the Phoenix Commission on the Arts and an artist fellowship through the American Scandinavian Foundation.
Christopher’s work has been reviewed in national and international publications including the L.A. Times, Boston Globe and GUP Magazine.
Evelyn Fredericks is a stone and bronze sculptor from the Hopi Nation in northern Arizona. She received an undergraduate degree from ASU and a graduate degree in Library Science from University of Arizona. Although she has no formal training, art has always been at the center of her life. Her work explores traditional Hopi life, ideals and mythology.
In addition to creating her own work, she works with other artists to bring attention to the Hopi arts through festivals and art fairs throughout the southwest.
"Hopi culture springs from ancient roots. Growing up, I was surrounded by people creating everyday objects from what nature had to offer. We didn't call it art but creating beauty in ordinary work is still important. Working in stone is a natural extension of this process, taking something from nature, working with it's spirit to bring out it's essence."
Jan Marshall earned a BFA in Painting and Drawing and her work can be found in private collections throughout the United States. In addition to her studio practice and exhibition schedule, she has been engaged with arts organizations in the capacities of curator, juror, panelist, and board member.
Through her abstract paintings and drawings that reference landscapes of both the psyche and the physical world, Jan explores a contemplative relationship with nature and humanity. Profoundly affected by the power of the natural landscape, beginning with observations while hiking and river running in the southwest as a child, she is inspired as she explores and absorbs the unique light, landforms, and vast horizons of the southwest and an inner journey of meditation.
Working in series, primarily in oil, pastel, watercolor, and ink, she depicts this journey with subtle transitions of color and minimal form. Her paintings vary in size from small-scale individual pieces to triptychs up to seventeen feet wide. Each series comprises multiple works and follows a concept through related expressions of time, space, or place. Jan has been working as a studio artist in Prescott, Arizona for over thirty years.
Jan is currently working on paintings for a solo exhibition inspired by the connections, tensions, and balance of the physical and metaphysical world.
Hallie Mueller originally comes from New England, where she received her education in Connecticut and Maine. Since moving west, Hallie has been fascinated with imagery accumulated from travels across different landscapes. Her work deals with layering and the way visual ambiguity, specifically overlap and transparency, captures emotional memory. Culturally, we are accustomed to recording our memories using photography and film, suggesting that the brain records memory in a similarly logical way. Yet, human beings attempt to “remember” or find “meaning” from such a disparate array of visual data using different types of associations.
Hallie’s visual content stems largely from travel experiences to new landscapes. In many cases, she climbs, hikes, or kayaks as a way of exploring the sensory depth and complexity that outdoor spaces have to offer. Hiking, for example, draws attention to the ground and small scale textures found in plant life. Climbing, on the other hand, often brings emphasis to the belittling scale of geologic formations instead.
Through painting, and specifically the way it allows for layering and transparency, Hallie explores what makes new atmospheres so fascinating. This process is invariably complex—a combination of what one literally sees; what we may know about a landscape, but cannot see (such as the history of logging); or what is imagined when memory makes lofty connections between places. In effect, some images convey sensory reality, whereas others explore pattern without resembling real spaces at all.
Originally from Philadelphia, Mark Pomilio is currently living and working in Phoenix, Arizona. Where he is an Associate Professor within the School of Art, at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.
Mark’s current research has focused on creating images, which embody principles of geometry, fractals, cloning and single cell manipulation. These interests have led to invitations to lecture nationally, on topics as diverse as art and mathematics and the role the visual arts can play, in understanding the social ramifications of advances in the Life Sciences.
His artwork has been featured in solo museum and gallery exhibitions nationally and internationally, including Xu Beihong Art Academy, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China, the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salapetriere, in Paris, France, and Art Resources Transfer, in New York City.
Born in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Mary Shindell moved to Arizona when she was five years old. Her education as a child was in the public school system of Mesa, Arizona. Shindell received a BFA in painting from Northern Arizona University and an MFA in drawing from Arizona State University. Mary worked as an artist in the schools in Arizona and Nebraska and also taught drawing at the University level. After living several years in other parts of the country the artist returned to Arizona in 1989 where she has lived and worked ever since.
The art of Mary Shindell is drawing based and includes limited-edition printmaking, small and large-scale drawings, installation, and public art. Her studio work has been included in national and international exhibitions. She also works within a downtown Phoenix collective gallery, 515 arts (of which she is a founding member), to facilitate interaction with the public and with other artists in her community. Recent public art commissions include, the city of Chandler, the city of Phoenix, Valley Metro light rail system, the city of Goodyear, Arizona and Scottsdale Public Art. In her studio work Shindell is continuing to explore the intersection between digital and hand-drawn media using the desert environment in unconventional landscape formats.