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Alumni Association challenges UH artists to create Shasta-inspired work

The University of Houston Alumni Association is calling on all UH artists, past and present, to participate in the first ever Cougar Art Challenge.

Students and alumni are invited to submit paintings, sculptures, drawings or other visual media, excluding photography and digitally-designed art, that depict UH’s mascot Shasta.

Selected pieces will be auctioned off at the 2016 UHAA Distinguished Awards Gala on May 7. Artists will receive 50 percent of the auction sale price, minus display costs.

“One thing I hear from the alums all the time is that they can’t find any Cougar art,” UHAA Vice President Mike Pede said. “They want one for their office, but they can’t find little statuettes or paintings or etchings.”

That’s where the idea came to have the UH community submit their own artworks that depict cougar pride, Pede said.

This year will mark the 62nd annual Distinguished Alumni Gala. Initially created as a fundraiser, the gala serves as a way to bolster UHAA efforts and honor the best and brightest of UH’s graduates and faculty.

The Distinguished Alumni Gala is intended to be more than just a fundraiser this year. By incorporating the Cougar Art Challenge, the gala will also spotlight the soon-to-be College of the Arts, which officially opens Sept. 1.

“(The Cougar Art Challenge) tells the story about what is going on on campus with our art students, and hopefully we’ll create some synergies where our alums will want to support a program or learn more about what is going on,” Pede said.

The challenge also offers an opportunity to bring together the UH community by honoring outstanding graduates and showcasing UH students and alumni who have an interest in art.

“I am a part-time artist and really enjoy painting, especially things involved with Houston,” said Camille Koski, a 2013 UH grad who will be submitting a piece for the challenge. “I’m thinking I want to incorporate the Houston skyline and perhaps TDECU Stadium as well.”

Although art majors are encouraged to participate, the Cougar Art Challenge is open to all students and alumni.

“I love that this contest is encouraging Cougars everywhere to express themselves,” Koski said. “It’s something I want to be a part of.”

Students and alumni interested in participating in the challenge must submit the online application by March 29. Completed art pieces must be delivered by April 18 to the Athletics and Alumni Center.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in your second year or third year or wherever you are,” Alumni Relations communications manager Pamela Gibbs-Smith said. “If you want to submit your art, do it.”

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