UA Department of Art & Art History Celebrates Its Outstanding Students

The UA Department of Art and Art History announced the five recipients of our Outstanding Student Awards for the academic year 2022-2023 during Honors Day ceremonies on April 7, 2023, in recognition of their exemplary dedication and commitment to academic achievement. These awards are the department’s most prestigious of the year, given only to a graduate and an undergraduate major in art history and studio art, and to an undergraduate major in graphic design.

Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Art History Award: Amelia Beacham

headshot of smiling young white girl standing in front of leafy trees in early spring under a partly cloudy sky.
Amelia Beacham, Outstanding Undergraduate in Art History, 2022-23

Amelia Beacham, from Birmingham, Alabama, is a senior art history major with a minor in Latin. Amelia holds a 4.0 GPA, has never made below an A, and is completing her BA degree in three years. The art history faculty praise Amelia’s commitment to art historical study, research and critical thought. “She excels in all aspects of art history, thinking broadly and deeply and always making interesting connections,” Associate Professor Dr. Rachel Stephens said. “In addition to her thoughtful participation in classes, Amelia is a warm and kind presence around our department. Her generous nature extends to helping classmates with projects, even as she unassumingly excels at her own work.”

Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Graphic Design Award: Christine Choi

Christine Choi, Outstanding Undergraduate in Graphic Design, 2022-23, with Assistant Professor Jonathan Cumberland

Christine Choi, from Montgomery, Alabama, is a senior BFA major in graphic design. Her work in package design was recognized with an Award of Excellence from Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) and will be included in the prestigious 2023 GDUSA Package Design Annual. Choi was elected communications officer for the UA AIGA Student Group and she served as a graphic designer for University Programs and UA Tide Talks. Assistant Professor Cassandra Palmer said, “Christine is a quick learner who works with enthusiasm. She is dedicated to her classwork and always willing to help her classmates. I know that she is going to be very successful in her career.”

Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Studio Art Award: Ella Smyth

Ella Smyth, Outstanding Undergraduate in Studio Art, with Professor Jason Guynes

Prattville native Ella Smyth is a senior BFA major in studio art with a primary concentration is painting and a secondary concentration in drawing. Smyth holds a 4.0 GPA, has been awarded multiple departmental scholarships, and made the Dean’s List in 2021 and the President’s List in 2019, 2020 and 2022. She is lead gallery worker for the Sella-Granata Art Gallery and served as an education intern at the Montgomery (Ala.) Museum of Fine Arts. Smyth’s artwork was selected for the Bellwhethers 2021 Juried Exhibition at the University of Tennessee at Martin and the West Alabama Juried Show in 2022. In praise of her growth as an artist and artist-citizen, Professor Pete Schulte said that Smyth “possesses a spirited work ethic, innate curiosity and abiding commitment to her practice and development as an artist. She elevates the overall classroom discourse, and through encouragement and example, has been a strong role model for less experienced students.”

Outstanding Graduate Student in Art History Award: Julie Weber

Julie Weber, Outstanding Graduate Student in Art History, with Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer M. Feltman

Julie Weber’s research focuses on modern and contemporary art history with a focus on twentieth-century Latin American art. Weber holds a graduate teaching assistantship. She was awarded the competitive Havner Curatorial Internship at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and she currently serves as the Goodrich Fellow at the Birmingham Museum of Art. At the 2022 27th Annual Graduate Student Symposium in Art History, Weber’s paper presentation, “The Life and Art of Archibald Motley, Jr.: Before and After Paris,” won third place in the Best Paper Awards. She received the BFA in studio art with a concentration in photography in 2012 from UA, graduating magna cum laude. Dr. Rachel Stephens said, “Julie has pursued her MA degree with professionalism, commitment, and passion. Not only is she working at the highest level, but she is steady, reliable and a wonderful colleague in the department.”

Outstanding Graduate Student in Studio Art Award: Ryan Akers

Ryan Akers is a MFA candidate in painting and holds a teaching assistantship. Akers held a solo exhibition at Burgin Center for the Arts, Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and his work was selected for the Director’s Award in the 44th Montgomery (Ala.) Art Guild Museum Exhibition. Akers, said his professor Pete Schulte, stands out as “a high-achieving artist and a model artist-citizen. His care and concern for others provides a palpable and nurturing presence for both graduate students and the undergrads that he has taught and assisted.” In the classroom, Schulte said, “Ryan has demonstrated a level of patience, growth, and maturity that has endeared him to students and is indicative of an educator with a bright and promising future.” In his studio research, Akers has been “steadfast in his research and deeply committed to the development of his increasingly nuanced and experimental approach to drawing and installation,” his professor said. Akers received the BA in 2020 in interdisciplinary studies from New College at UA.

For more information about the programs in the UA Department of Art and Art History, go to this page or contact the department at (205) 348-5967.