Lear Art Exhibition and awards recognize merit among art students

Zoe Brouse, The Gazing Trials

"The Gazing Trials," a webcomic created by Penn State Abington student Zoe Brouse, received the Purchase Award for Best in Show at the annual Bertha Lear Student Art exhibition on campus. As the winner of the purchase award, Brouse’s work will be printed as a comic book and added to the campus art collection.  

Credit: Zack Gething

Penn State Abington honored its creative community this week at the annual Bertha Lear Student Art Exhibition reception and awards ceremony. The show features sculpture, painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, printmaking and new media work completed during the 2021-22 academic year by students enrolled in studio art courses. 

The exhibition is named for Bertha Lear, an artist who worked in oils, clay, and marble sculptures. Robert A. Lear, class of 1967, and his wife, Marilyn, established an endowment to honor and memorialize his mother and to promote art to Abington students. The endowment supports the annual student art exhibition. 

Chancellor Margo DelliCarpini praised the donors for supporting and recognizing student achievement. 

‘“Endowed student awards and academic program funds that celebrate student excellence enrich the student and educational experience at Abington,” she said. 

The winners of this year’s Lear awards are listed below along with comments on their art practice from H. John Thompson, associate teaching professor of art and art gallery director. See images of the winning pieces here.  

The Bertha Lear Purchase Award for Best in Show: Zoe Brouse, for "The Gazing Trials" (webcomic)

“The Gazing Trials is artfully crafted visually and thoughtfully composed conceptually," said Thompson. "Zoe has a deep understanding of her audience and how her work can be seen and interacted with online and in person.” 

As the winner of the purchase award, Brouse’s work will be printed as a comic book and added to the campus art collection.  


Stanley and Lois Singer Award for Excellence in Black and White Photography: Samuel Yu, "Untitled" (digital photograph)  

“Samuel was selected for this award because it’s beautifully composed and exhibits a wonderful tonal range," said Thompson. "He is a very thoughtful artist who considers the aesthetics of his work.” 

Bertha Lear Award Honorable Mention: Alpha Barry, "Mara" (web interactive) and "Sisyphus" (interactive digital animation) 

“Alpha is an incredibly talented draftsperson, and he’s also very skilled with digital work," said Thompson.

Bertha Lear Award for Depth of Content: Sierrarose Biello, "Cepbezia Triptych" (watercolor) 

“Sierra has been developing an aesthetic that is very much her own," said Thompson, "complete with vibrant colors and a variety of anthropomorphic characters.”  

Bertha Lear Award for Artistic Achievement: Theodora Dagkli Andonopoulos, "Georgia O’Keeffe Texture Drawing" and "Sea Monster" (both India ink on paper) 

“Theodora invests creativity and rigor into her projects whether it’s through artistic journaling, illustration, or large-scale works," said Thompson.

Bertha Lear Award for Craftsmanship: Erica Beyer, "Flourish" (ceramic) 

“Erica’s work shows a proficiency with materials and attention to detail," said Thompson. "She is a great example of a student who finds great success in her attention to the craft of artmaking.” 

Bertha Lear Award for Aesthetic Development and Execution: Kait Fabiani 

"The award is given to a student who has a clear vision of the story they want to tell and uses the tools at their disposal to create imagery and objects that tell that story in an outstanding way," said Thompson. "Kait’s work uses various forms of sculpture to explore religious themes and metaphor in compelling ways.” 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 23 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.