Monmouth College student Joshua Hinkle hopes his award-winning artwork will not only inspire those who see it, but lead them to support change.
Hinkle’s mixed media piece, America’s Veteran, received two honors recently in the college’s annual Juried Student Art Exhibition. It was named “Best in Mixed Media” as well as “Best of Show,” the top honor, according to a Tuesday Monmouth release.
A total of 36 Monmouth students submitted a combined 76 pieces that were considered by the show’s juror, artist April Jackson of Galesburg. She selected 34 pieces from 20 artists to be exhibited, and all but one of the top honors were named on Friday, Nov. 17, at a reception held in the Len G. Everett Gallery in the College’s Hewes Library.
The Buchanan Center for the Arts’ People’s Choice award will be named when the exhibit closes on Dec. 6.
The powerful piece by Hinkle, who is an art and philosophy senior from Alexis, Ill., features a sculpture of what appears to be an emaciated soldier or veteran, sitting slumped over on the ground while holding an opened ammunition box that is stuffed with pills, a medicine bottle and a single ammunition cartridge.
The work is accompanied by original text by Hinkle, displayed on a nearby wall. The text decries how military veterans have been treated, lamenting “society’s indifference, a cruel charade,” adding that “so much pain unseen, we battle such demons, both real and obscene.”
“I served in the military for 13 years, and I have personally lost 16 of my brothers and sisters to suicide,” said Hinkle, who is an Army veteran. “The boots that are in that sculpture actually worn by my brother when he committed suicide. So I took them and encapsulated them forever so that we can remember him.”
The exhibit’s other awards were:
- Ceramics (Unequivocally Exposed): Logan Mazzocco ’24 of Aledo
- Design (Musicality): Madison Heiser ’26 of Pekin
- Drawing (Home): Andrea Castaneda ’26 of Blue Island
- Painting (For I Am Nothing More): Alivia Palicki ’24 of Fulton
- Photography (The American Dream): Charlie Conkle ’24 of Morton Grove
- Sculpture (Plague): Palicki
Two years in the making
Hinkle said he started work on his award-winning piece when he was a student at Carl Sandburg College, Galesburg.
“I let it deteriorate for a year-and-a-half, but I kind of had an idea about how I wanted to present it,” he said.
After Monmouth, Hinkle plans to pursue a doctorate in philosophy, then he hopes to “try to find a way to come at the (veteran) suicide problem from a philosophical way.”
“Some wounds, science can’t heal. You can’t heal the soul with science,” he said.
In 2021, 6,392 U.S. veterans died by suicide, an increase of 114 suicides from 2020, according to the Veterans Administration. When looking at increases in rates from 2020 to 2021, the suicide rate among veterans increased by 11.6%, while the suicide rate among non-veteran U.S. adults increased by 4.5%.
Jackson, the Monmouth juror, said she was impressed with the show’s “wide variety of work.”
“I was very excited to see work that I know will be progressed upon in the future,” said Jackson. “I see a lot of skills in this show that are going to get better and better and better, and that is a very exciting thing.”
Jackson praised students’ creations that addressed darker topics.
“For me a lot of this show is about choosing the darker art,” she said. “It is somewhat unpopular but happy is easy. I really like it when people choose to tackle difficult subjects, difficult emotions and difficult concepts in their artwork. I think it needs to be recognized, and we need to have a lot more uncomfortable conversations in art. So I was very excited to see a lot of the work that was submitted because I do really feel like it reflects the time that we’re living in, and that’s the essence of contemporary art.”
Monmouth art professor Stacy Lotz said that one of the show’s strengths over the more than three decades it has been held is that it is open to all Monmouth students.
“I think the fun thing about this show every year is that it’s not just our art majors that get into this show,” said Lotz. “This year, we have a piece by a computer science major, we’ve got pieces by physical education majors, we’ve got teacher education folks in this exhibition. It’s really all over the place, and that’s what’s exciting is that even though it’s a juried show it’s still inclusive.”
The Monmouth College annual Juried Student Art Exhibition is on display through Dec. 6 in the College’s Len G. Everett Gallery in Hewes Library. Gallery hours are 1-9 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday; closed Saturday. The library and gallery are closed Nov. 22-26 for Thanksgiving break.