Ainsley Kissell, an art education and ceramics major at PennWest Edinboro, earned the top honor at the 15th annual Michael V. Gmitter Scholarship Exhibition.

Kissell earned the top prize of $2,150, while semifinalists Paige Cawley (graphic design), Jennifer Chamberlain (ceramics) and Caroline Fitch (art education and metals) each received scholarship prizes.

Gmitter Exhibition finalists Ainsley Kissell, Jennifer Chamberlain, Caroline Fitch and Paige Cawley

Also recognized during the event were 10 finalists, including Ryan Hess (film), Emily Malay (graphic design), Grace Maust (illustration and graphic design), Kiersten Oliver-Ketter (ceramics), Miranda Peterson (graphic design), Katrina Roof (animation), Jacob Steadman (graphic design) and Olivia Sutton (illustration and English).

From this pool of over two dozen applicants, PennWest faculty members Mark Deka (art history), Scott Gladd (graphic design) and Suzanne Proulx (painting and drawing) selected these finalists for a mini-exhibition.

Rachel Rearick ’06, who serves as executive director of Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, evaluated the displays as the guest juror. Each artistic display was judged on artistic ability, originality, creativity, craftsmanship, power of design and overall presentation.

“This exhibition showcases the high level of creative accomplishment and professionalism of our students,” said Cappy Counard, art faculty member and founder/organizer of the Gmitter Exhibition.

The Gmitter Exhibition was created in 2007 by Jan Gmitter, her husband Richard (now deceased) and son Devin, to honor the memory of their late son and brother, Michael, a student of Edinboro’s art program studying jewelry design/metalsmithing. Michael died July 25, 2006, age 22, a year before his anticipated graduation.

Creating a scholarship in Michael’s name, the family wanted to not only honor and cherish his memory, but also to encourage and reward the same commitment and passion to art that Michael demonstrated during his life.

They chose to turn their loss into an opportunity to support and inspire others. Their gift gave birth to the Gmitter Exhibition and the annual “Celebrate the Artist” event.