Above and Beyond: Presenting the 2022 KCAD Excellence Award Winners

Posted April 21, 2022

Each year, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) honors those graduating seniors who exhibit a rare level of mastery and accomplishment in their chosen field with Excellence Awards, a longstanding tradition that represents the pinnacle of undergraduate achievement at the college.

Chosen from across KCAD's programmatic landscape, each new group of honorees reflects a unique diversity of creative practice, conceptual focus, and professional trajectory. At the same time, all winners are united by an insatiable curiosity, a fierce dedication to learning and growth, and a passion for connecting their creativity to something larger than themselves.

The 2022 Excellence Award winners are undoubtedly cut from the same cloth, and it is our distinct pleasure to present them to you:

Ashleigh Bowyer - Art Education

Woman in a sportcoat smiles into the camera

"Individuals who partake in art have the potential to better our world and further its capacity to function in an improved fashion. As an art educator, it is my purpose to not only improve my students’ artistic skills but prepare them for the outside world. After leaving my classroom, they will have a strong foundation on which to build themselves as irreplaceable participants in a global community." 

Drue McPherson - Art History

man in a navy sweater smiling into the camera

"As someone who is queer, I find both the private and public sphere a continual challenge. My writing and research practices focus largely on the in/visibility and cultural associations attached to Western constructs of identity. Connecting the past to the contemporary, I concentrate on how art and design live through experience and enable impact, both socially and culturally."

Sierra Walters - Collaborative Design

Woman in a black shirt with red hair looking into the camera

"Through collaborative design and design thinking in itself I use holistic systems thinking and visual communication to get my idea across. The design process encourages the messy work  and to consider all stakeholders, big ideas, and human-centered design. I find connections with alternative universes, illustrative characters, and what the environment has to offer in terms of biodiversity."

Kenna Savitri Marar - Digital Art and Design

A woman in a red shirt holding a goat

"I look at art as an alternative to the real. It proposes new situations, scenarios, or prospects that otherwise may never be explored without a suspension of disbelief. Creating work that can spur this same kind of passion in others motivates me to continue my practice of collaborative storytelling, wherein consciously or subconsciously, the input from other creatives always influences the life my animations take on."

Emily Beeman - Drawing

A grainy photograph of a young woman with red hair holding a fluffy catcredit: Rose Brumett

"For most of my career as an artist, I focused just on graphite, making drawings about animals, roadkill, and the cyclical fragility of life. More recently, though, I’ve been interested in the potential of embroidery and the messiness of the backside—the thread on the back takes a life of its own, both in and out of my control simultaneously, knotting and tangling as I work on the opposite side. When I work the both the front and the back, I get the best of both worlds—a balance between control and surprise."

Hazel Lovecraft - Fashion Studies

A young woman in a bright red dress with colorful floral pattern

"My goal is not only to design one of a kind garments but to create a magical experience that will empower the individual wearing them. . .My brand philosophy is creating gender friendly and earth friendly fashion magic. I’ve developed a unisex size range describing clothes by fit instead of gender and I use fabrics that are gentle on the environment."

Boya Zhang - Furniture Design

Woman with glasses and black hair smiles into the camera credit: Gai Liu

"I believe designers have the responsibilities to design for the community and for those whose voices are missing and a good design is a creative solution that can make a greater and profound impact to our society. I am enthusiastic about designing solutions to cross over boundaries and reconnect people with empathy and understanding. My approach to design is to apply design thinking systematically in an interdisciplinary and collaborative way to explore human centered solutions that are accessible to all."

Carter Teranes - Graphic Design

A man with a teal shirt and circle rimmed glasses

"Through a research-oriented and project-specific approach, I consider my creative practice as one which views the "design as problem solving" model in a holistic and critical way. I don't create solutions which claim to be the most objectively correct or efficient, rather I answer with work which is thought provoking, aesthetically challenging, and above all, meaningful."

Jordan Thompson - Illustration

Woman with a black hat and a white striped band

"I’m really focused on making bright, bold graphic work that represents someone like me who is just as bright and as bold. I work with acrylic paint and focus on fun, whimsical imagery of primarily animals and memories. I currently work in a room you could overlook as a walk-in closet in hopes of one day focusing on painting murals that span much more in size."

Tyler Dally - Industrial Design

Man with curly hair and a brown button up smiles gently into the camera credit: Amelie Ferdais Photography

"As an Industrial Designer, it is my responsibility to provide a higher standard to those interacting with the products and systems I've designed. My approach to achieving that standard has grown to be holistic in nature. Focusing closely on each problem along the way while also taking the necessary steps back to see the project in its entirety. My goal is not necessarily to solve each and every item uncovered but to better understand the needs associated with the desired experience. I find great joy in applying my skills to provide a valuable experience for others."

Peyton Helsen - Interior Design

Woman with a black sweater smiles into the camera credit: Jill DeVries

"My design philosophy is grounded in my curious nature. I strive to have a deeper understanding of those around me, and the journeys that have made each of us unique. Originality is beauty, our differences are interesting. With this in mind, I aim to push people to stand out and embrace their personality in order to create a unique design solution. I draw excitement from the fact that everyone has different preferences in design."

Josephine Hydell - Medical Illustration

A woman in black rimmed glasses smiles inot the camera credit: Oakley Zaiding

"My creative practice normally involves a large amount of research followed by drawing a hefty amount of composition sketches. after drawing composition sketches, I do more research in preparation for a more detailed drawing. . .I like to consider a lot of critiques while I'm working on a project and am always considering the feedback of others at every stage of development."

Madelyn Dickman - Painting

A woman in a jean jacket poses in front of an abstract painting credit: Maggie Schmidt

"After my mom passed away a few years ago, I lost a large part of my memory due to grief. I became obsessed with writing everything down so I wouldn’t forget anymore. Because of this, everyday forms of writing such as to-do lists, diaries, and letters have become the main inspiration for my creative process. I mostly work in mixed media and collage, creating a collection of artworks that mimic my collection of memories."

Vynne Lohman - Pathways General Education

A person in a fanged mask and purple hair poses for the camera

"To me, writing is about trying to help others to see things the way that you do, and it gives our words a kind of power that, sometimes, it can be difficult to see through artwork alone. Art to me is about telling stories, so my writing also tries to capture the magic that stories hold to us as humans. After all, without stories, we wouldn't be the people we are; storytelling is linked to our very being. From essays to prose, I always try to make my words as vivid as I can, because that's where the humanity comes through."

The Owl House and associated images are the copyright of Disney Animation Television

Dani Hughes - Photography

A woman with blond hair and a jean jacket holds a camera in her hands credit: Jessica Simons

"Whether it be my own memories, or my curiosities surrounding bygone eras, I use photography as a visual narrative tool. The influences of my rural Midwest upbringing and family history often surface in my work and reflects a draw to preserving personal attributes of remembrance. I find connecting with your art process is just as valuable as with your subject and the tactful patience and craft required with traditional analog photography grounds the steady flow of ideas and passions that float around in my mind."


Katherine Westbrook - Printmaking

A woman with glasses poses in front of a brick wall

"My work is sensitive, quiet, and contemplative- indicative of my own mannerisms and the way in which I work. Metaphors found within the natural world are a conscious choice that I make within my subject matter in a visually poetic manner, referents to my own personal experiences. By focusing my practice primarily in the medium of lithography, I’ve found that I thrive in the long hours of arduous and intensive focus that the process demands."

Want to see more of KCAD's 2022 Excellence Award winners? Come to the opening reception of our 2022 Annual Student Exhibitions on Tuesday, May 3 from 4-7pm!

As part of the annual KCAD tradition, special exhibition of the Excellence Award winners will be on display in the Alluvium Gallery from May 2-7, 2022, while a complimentary online exhibition will go live at 4pm on May 3 at kcad2022.org