Painting as Spectator Sport: Student Competes in ArtBattles U

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 26, 2013) — When Sequoia Collier-Hezel ’15 heard about ArtBattles U, a New York organization that gives college students the opportunity to show off their talents in a public setting, he immediately applied to enter the competition.

ArtBattles U pits four artist-students against each other in a Live Art Battle as they create original pieces in front of an audience.

“Sequoia was on fire about it,” says his mentor Stephen Cope, M.F.A., assistant professor of art.

Collier-Hezel’s passion paid off. Chosen as one of the four Philadelphia area “combatants” from among a dozen other college students, he faced off against art students from the University of Pennsylvania, the Tyler School of Art and the University of Vermont, in front of 200 people at the performance venue Underground Arts on Nov. 21. Collier-Hezel placed second in the competition and received a cash award. His illustration, which was based on “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” the famous 19th century color woodcut by Hokusai, will also be produced as a t-shirt as well as iPhone and iPad skins.

“It was crazy to create art as a spectator sport,” says Collier-Hezel, a junior art major from Buffalo, N.Y. “For me, making art is usually a very slow, solitary and introspective process. But during the competition, I was totally focused and got so much energy from the crowd, which kept me going through two very intense 45-minute work sessions.”

Cope, who advised Collier-Hezel on his SJU Summer Scholar project last summer, says his student made the most of that opportunity and worked hard to develop and refine his style. According to Cope, Collier-Hezel’s output was prolific as he explored several drawing genres, creating work in many sizes in charcoal with color pastel inserts.

“Sequoia’s images are primarily figurative and very well rendered,” Cope says. “They are unique; different; wild. He creates imaginative and wickedly open narratives, and his images have great visual impact, as traditional aspects are challenged by graphic cartoon inserts.”

Collier-Hezel’s work will be on display in the Boland Hall Student and Alumni Gallery through Nov. 29.

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Director of Communications/CAS, 610-660-3240,

Expand this section