UA BFA Senior Takes on Historic SGA Portrait Painting Commission

Mackenna Overholt (BFA 2023) with two recent SGA presidential portraits. Photo courtesy of the artist.

BFA in studio art senior Mackenna Overholt (BFA 2023) has taken on a historic commission, both as an artist and a UA student. Overholt has been designated as the official artist of UA Student Government Association presidential portraits. She has been commissioned to create oil paintings of current and recent SGA presidents, something no UA student has ever done. At the time of this interview, she had already completed portraits of the two most recent past presidents and said that she was planning to finish the third portrait before graduation.

Overholt’s commission is historic because she is the only student to paint official SGA presidential portraits and soon will be the only alumna, according to SGA Advisor Angel Narvaez-Lugo.

Narvaez-Lugo said that previous portraits of SGA presidents had been done by a local artist. “When I came into the role [of advisor] in 2020, one of my goals was to amplify student voices and I felt that also included highlighting student talent and utilizing student resources wherever possible,” he explained. “I felt that the commissioning of the SGA presidential portraits was a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”

Narvaez-Lugo found Overholt through the recommendations of her friends who were familiar with her skill as a painter. “After seeing her Instagram account, I knew that she would be the perfect fit! Her talent blew me away. Looking at her work, I knew that she would provide a true likeness of the presidents, and I was thrilled that they would be done by one of our students.”

He added, “As for future portraits, I’ve told Mackenna that the commission is hers until she no longer wants it. I love that a UA student and future alumna is now a part of the SGA story as told by the Presidential Portraits.”

Overholt said she is looking forward to this annual commission as new presidents are elected. “It has been such an incredible opportunity this year and such an honor to have my work hanging in the Student Center!,” Overholt said.

Mackenna Overholt will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio art with a primary concentration in painting and a secondary one in drawing. She also holds a minor in art history. Overholt made the President’s List in the fall of 2022 and has received the Marilyn Williams Elmore Endowed Art Scholarship, the Windgate Charitable Foundation Endowed Studio Arts Scholarship, the Art Students Endowed Scholarship Fund, and the Farley Moody Galbraith Endowed Scholarship throughout her years in the UA Department of Art and Art History. See more of Overholt’s artwork on Instagram @mackennaoverholtfineart or on her website.

For more information about The University of Alabama’s programs in studio art and art history, visit our Degree Programs page.