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Film by KU visual art student wins international film festival award

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

LAWRENCE – A film created by University of Kansas visual art student Olivia Hernández was the overall winner of the Short Film Work-in-Progress category from the CreActive International Open Film Festival in Bangladesh.

Hernández’s film, “material girl hallelujah,” is an original video created in response to her original sound recording of her mother and cousins singing hymns in a one-room church founded by her great-great-grandfather in the mountains of Virginia. It was selected as a festival award winner out of more than 4,000 submissions from 105 countries. 

“To receive an award for my modest attempts at art-making feels like a cosmic ‘thumbs up’ from the universe and encourages me to continue making work that reflects my taste and interests,” Hernández said. “It is incredible that my work has traveled from my computer to a film jury a world away and been found worthy of an award.”

Hernández, a senior from Miami, credits the KU Department of Visual Art’s flexibility and resources for her growth and development as an artist. Expanded media is naturally an interdisciplinary field, and Hernández finds the lack of boundaries in space, materials and process really exciting.

“Olivia is one of the hardest workers, brightest intellectuals and conscientious community members I have worked with here at KU,” said Benjamin Rosenthal, assistant professor of visual art and expanded media artist. “Her academic and studio work is ambitious and perpetually challenges the expectations of the department and the limits of her abilities.”

Her work is an exploration of opposing concepts: real and digital, ecstasy and despair, public and private, mechanical and organic. Hernández says her award-winning film is a “reflection of my own balancing act of internal oppositions.”

“I’m both rediscovering and asking a lot of myself through my art process, and my work is inspired by the answers I’m uncovering,” Hernández said.

Rosenthal knows that the conversations Hernández engages with around gender, religion and politics extend beyond her own work. He added, “These ideas are sophisticated and extend into the larger cultural concerns of the field of expanded media as a whole.”

CreActive International Open Film Festival (IOFF) is an initiative to explore the film with no border. International juries from different countries will score the films along with audiences online. Films will be screened in the live and/or online festival event. IOFF is one of the “Top 100 Best Reviewed Festival” in the world.

The Department of Visual Art is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.