Fellowship Award Winner Inspired by Her Grandmother

University of Alabama BFA senior Alexandra (Ali) Hval of Birmingham, Al., has been awarded a prestigious Windgate Fellowship by The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (CCCD). The $15,000 prize is one of only ten given out each year to college seniors around the nation with “exemplary skill in craft.”

UPDATE on Ali Hval: She was accepted to graduate school in the fall of 2016 at The University of Iowa in the School of Art and Art History, to concentrate in painting and drawing. She has been awarded a teaching assistantship and a tuition waiver for all three years, as well as a $2,500 scholarship the first year.

Hval, who won for her work in the category of Fiber/Textiles, said she had to make a budget and a timeline showing how she would use the money if she won. “There are a lot of ways people could have gone about applying based on their particular areas of expertise, but I chose the route of putting most of my money towards creating a body of work over the next eighteen months.” She’ll use the money to pay for a studio, take workshops to hone her sewing and design skills and buy special textiles for projects she’s planning. Hval recognizes her good fortune: “It’s pretty rare to be able to have the funds for a studio space, materials and travel funds straight out of college; it’s like being a professional artist-in-training.”

Schoolmate Jennifer Ocampo models a kimono by Ali Hval in April on UA's main quad. Ali Hval, "Genesis," 2015, silk chiffon, muslin, panty hose, plastic wrap, piping, and paracord, dimensions variable, approx. 6'x10'x12'. Photo courtesy of the artist. Ali Hval, installation of "Genesis" in the UA Gallery, DWCAC Ali Hval 2015, in her BFA exhibition, Contact Ali Hval, "Four Cells," Annual BFA Juried Exhibition, 2015.

One of the workshops she plans to take is a week-long sewing, quilting and embellishing workshop that will teach her skills in textile construction. Finishing the workshop will certify Hval as a sewing instructor, which she says could open up other avenues. And she won’t take the workshop alone. Hval hopes the person who inspired her work with textiles, her grandmother and “an incredible quilter,” Alma Lokken, will take it along with her. Hval said, “I remember discussing that workshop with my grandmother and how she said she’d take it with me if I won the fellowship. Lo and behold, the craft center deemed me worthy and my Grandma and I will indeed be sewing partners in crime!”

Ali Hval and her grandmother, Alma Lokken, at Ali's graduation in May 2015.

Hval is still not sure what she’ll do after she has completed her planned training and projects, although “grad school seems inevitable.” But for now, she wants to focus on the unique opportunity the fellowship has offered her. “I really want the art work to be the focus of these next eighteen months and to just make, learn, and experience as much delicious art-related gunk as possible.”

On what her UA experience has meant to her, Hval wrote in a public Facebook post, “Somehow I was chosen as one of those lucky 10 [Windgate Fellows], and I can’t put into words how thankful I am for the art department here at UA as well as for how supportive the faculty and professors have been to me throughout not only the process, but my entire college career; they’re like a home away from home for me, and I would not have chosen to go anywhere for a more cultivated college experience.”

Two UA BFA majors have won the Windgate Fellowship award in previous years, Adam Hill in 2012 and Jenny Fine in 2006.