AMES, Iowa — Five artists with ties to the Iowa State University College of Design earned top honors in the 49th Annual Clay, Fiber, Paper, Glass, Metal, Wood exhibition at the Octagon Center for the Arts in Ames.

Guest juror Santiago Cal announced awards during the opening reception Friday, Jan. 27.

Olivia Valentine, ISU assistant professor of art and visual culture, won the Winifred V. Brown Best of Show award for “The Entering Takes Away” (handwoven linen bobbin lace, steel rod).

Of Valentine’s work, Cal said, “What I really responded to was this idea of the function of lace in relation to the window, of it being on the very edge of hidden and revealed and how a window does that within a house — it obscures and reveals at the same time.

“I found the idea of making this structural, rigid object, which is a window sill, into a delicate, fabric-like form to be very poetic.”

Matthew Obbink of Ames, an Iowa State graduate student in integrated visual arts, was awarded first place for his functional sculpture title “Inside the Mind of a Maker” (Iowa walnut, brass, steel, slide film, found object).

“What I like about his work is that it’s curious from the get-go: you look at it, you see a handle, an eye opening, an ear piece, so you know it’s functioning but yet you don’t know what it does,” Cal remarked. “That kind of abstractness in its function is a pretty challenging thing to do, especially when using things we’re familiar with like a crank. The craft is exquisite — the attention to detail, the shape and angles — it’s a joy to experience.”

Robert Jinkins, Rewey, Wisconsin, also a graduate student in integrated visual arts, received second place for “Self-Portrait” (graphite and acrylic mixed-media on panel).

Cal noted that it’s “technically a very striking piece, almost life-scale and holding a gun. It’s a little menacing, not very inviting, but at the same time that’s why I was struck by it. You’re compelled to go up to it because of the detail and the expression on the face.”

Honorable mentions went to Nibras Abdalla, a senior in biological/pre-medical illustration, for “Interpretation” (digital photography), and to alumna Naomi Friend, who received a Master of Fine Arts in integrated visual arts from ISU in 2013, for “Florida Cracker Cow” (cynotype, spraypaint, acrylic).

The Clay, Fiber, Paper, Metal, Glass, Wood exhibition features 65 original artworks by 65 artists from 12 states, including 20 who are students, faculty members or alumni of the ISU College of Design (see complete list below). Three-hundred-fifty entries from 134 artists were submitted for consideration. The show is on display through April 1 in the Octagon’s Main Gallery. A complete list of accepted artists, awards and a link to the juror’s comments are available online.


Nibras Abdalla, senior, biological/pre-medical illustration
Charlie Coffey, junior, art and design
Robert Jinkins, graduate student, integrated visual arts
Carly Ludwig, senior, integrated studio arts
Matthew Obbink, graduate student, integrated visual arts


Joe Muench (BFA 1984 Craft Design), professor of art and visual culture
Nancy Thompson (BFA 2001 Integrated Studio Arts / MFA 2008 Integrated Visual Arts), lecturer in art and visual culture
Olivia Valentine, assistant professor of art and visual culture
Barbara Walton, associate professor of art and visual culture


Penny Adam (BA 1980 Interior Design)
Angela Beckwith (BFA 2011 Integrated Studio Arts)
Stewart Buck (BA 1973 Advertising Design / MA 1975 Applied Art)
Erin Carpenter (BLA 2006 Landscape Architecture & Environmental Studies)
Art Ciccotti (BFA 1987 Art Education)
Ronald Dinsdale (BS 1974 Art Education / MA 1999 Art & Design)
Caroline Freese (BFA 2016 Integrated Studio Arts)
Naomi Friend (MFA 2013 Integrated Visual Arts)
Rex Heer (BA 1975 Architecture / MS 2008 Curriculum & Instruction)
Nick Muhlbauer (BFA 2013 Integrated Studio Arts)
Phil Scorza (BA 1984 Graphic Design)
Mattea Whetstone (BA 2005 Biological/Pre-medical Illustration / MS 2007 Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies)


Heather Johnson, Octagon Center for the Arts, (515) 232-5331, director@octagonarts.org
Olivia Valentine, Art and Visual Culture, ovalen@iastate.edu
Matthew Obbink, Integrated Visual Arts, (515) 450-3994, obbink@iastate.edu
Robert Jinkins, Integrated Visual Arts, (608) 623-2133, jinkinsr@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu