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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Activities & Organizations

Students’ Shasta art auctioned at Alumni Association gala

Spring 2016 graduate Sonakshee Shree stands beside the watercolor painting, "Shasta VI," she created for the Cougar Art Challenge. | Courtesy of Sonakshee Shree

Spring 2016 graduate Sonakshee Shree stands beside the watercolor painting, ‘Shasta VI,’ she created for the ‘Cougar Art Challenge.’ | Courtesy of Sonakshee Shree

Three students were awarded half of the sales price for their submissions to the first-ever “Cougar Art Challenge” in a live auction May 7 at the University of Houston’s Distinguished Alumni Gala.

The challenge invited students and alumni to submit artwork depicting the UH mascot Shasta. In addition to the three sold pieces, 15 other were displayed and placed in a silent auction.

“I was very interested in participating when I found out that the auction would take place at the gala, and that the accepted artists were invited to attend,” Tim Walker, a digital media junior, said.

Nearly 600 people attended the 62nd annual University of Houston Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Gala.

“The ‘Cougar Art Challenge’ achieved what we had hoped for,” Pamela Gibbs-Smith, the communications manager for UHAA, said. “We wanted to highlight the diversity of talent that the UH community has to offer and encourage artists to use their gifts.”

The challenge featured artists from all academic backgrounds.

“Art is definitely a hobby of mine,” Sonakshee Shree, a spring 2016 graduate who obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology, said. “I want to retire as a painter.”

Some artists wanted to depict Shasta in a new light. Others were inspired by their personal experience with UH and how the University has shaped their lives.

“The inspiration behind ‘Pride’ was my experience transferring from Texas A&M University in Kingsville to the University of Houston,” said Adrianna Guillen, a painting junior, whose piece sold for $3,100. “This spring semester at UH has given me so much joy, ambition and pride to be a Cougar. I wanted to express that transferring to the University of Houston was a great decision.”

The trio of artists who were selected to have their pieces sold live stood next to their work as the auctioneer accepted bids.

“I remember taking a look at the massive crowd as I stepped forward next to my piece,” Walker said. “When the auction began, I didn’t know what to think or expect.”

Guillen was the first person to go onstage.

“I was in awe, holding back my tears,” Guillen said. “Words cannot describe how I felt when I saw the amount of people bidding on my artwork. If there was one word to describe that evening, it would have to be ‘thankful.’”

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