Mary Vernon

Mary Vernon Painting Prize honors longtime art professor, helps launch young artists’ careers

Nicolas Gonzalez and Mary Vernon

Nicolás González and Mary Vernon

Mary Vernon plans to retire in May 2018, and Meadows School of the Arts wanted to create a fitting honor for the longtime art and art history professor. In 2016, along with a group of donors, the School established the Mary Vernon Painting Prize to help launch the careers of top art students.

Now, Meadows seeks to endow the prize fund in perpetuity, so that it can continue to help students establish their careers in the art world.

The School has set a goal of $100,000 or more to endow the annual award – presented to an undergraduate painter with the best body of work in the year, as judged by faculty. When fully vested, the endowment fund will generate $5,000 annually to be awarded to one or more promising art students.

To date, more than $60,000 has been secured toward the goal. An anonymous donor has offered to match dollar-for-dollar the next $20,000 in new gifts to help achieve or surpass the funding goal.

“In spring 2016, Mary told me it was time to transcend from an art student into an emerging artist,” says Nicolás González ’17, the prize’s first recipient. “She told me to invest my passion and time with painting materials that are rich in pigment and surfaces that are delicate to the touch. She said, ‘Let the world know that you are a painter, a serious painter, who knows how to paint.’”

The Mary Vernon Painting Prize has enabled González to purchase higher-quality painting supplies such as oils, Yupo paper, linen fabric and  brush script liners, he says. “Through these specific materials, my abilities as a painter have greatly expanded. They have allowed me to have a better understanding that the quality of the painting surface and the type of paint are very important.”

Vernon, says González, taught him to be brave and to persevere. “She encouraged me to never give up within the world of the arts,” he says. “There were times when I just wanted to throw in the towel, but every time, Mary seemed to always appear as a glowing light within the shadows of my fear. She would always encourage me to be better, to always do my best, and tell me that doors would always open as long as I turned the key. She said, ‘You already possess the key. It’s in your heart and soul, it speaks through your work. As long as you keep trying, doors will always open.’

“Mary Vernon is someone very special to this world and a true master of the arts and its history. Her love for the arts and her students is equal to none. I am so grateful to have Mary Vernon as my mentor, professor and true friend whom I hold close to my heart.”

— Written by Mary Guthrie

> Read the full story from the SMU Meadows homepage

For the Record: Summer 2009

Linda Eads, Dedman School of Law, received the 2009 Lola Wright Foundation Award from the Texas Bar Foundation in June, which included $5,000 to donate to the charity of her choice. The award recognizes “outstanding public service in advancing and enhancing legal ethics in Texas.” Past recipients include Berry Crowley, James Holmes III, Lloyd P. Lochridge, Jim Sales, Louise Raggio, Guy Harrison, Richard C. Hile, Justice Douglas S. Lan and Scott J. Atlas.

John Attanasio, Dean, Dedman School of Law, participated in a panel of law deans moderated by ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack at the 2009 State Bar of Texas annual meeting June 25-26 in Dallas. Other speakers at this year’s meeting included historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, former FBI director William S. Sessions, Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Anthony Cortese, Sociology, Dedman College, served as a panelist to evaluate proposals in sociology, anthropology, American studies, ethnic studies and psychology for the 2009 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships competition in Washington, D.C. He also served as commentator in a special session, “Racial Minorities in Popular Media,” at the annual meetings of the Association of Black Sociologists in New Orleans. In addition, he presented “Affirmative Action: Who’s Benefitting from it and Why” at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association Aug. 8-11 in San Francisco.

Mary Vernon, Art, Meadows School of the Arts, will present a solo exhibition, Mary Vernon: Still Lifes and Tables, Aug. 28-Sept. 26, 2009, at the Valley House Gallery in Dallas. The show features work inspired by her recent trip to China.

Kamal Saggi, Economics, Dedman College, gave a keynote speech at the Valuing International Trade Rules Conference June 17-19, 2009, near Zurich, Switzerland. The conference was organized by the Swiss National Science Foundation and The World Bank. In addition, he was an invited discussant in the American Law Institute World Trade Organization Case Law Project, which met June 8 at the WTO in Geneva.

Members of SMU's student AAPG chapterSMU finished 10th nationally and first in Texas in the Excellence in Management Cup presented by Texas A&M’s Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Cup determines which athletic departments win the most conference and national championships while having the lowest expenses. SMU won five conference championships in 2008-09, including cross country, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, women’s tennis and women’s basketball. Read more.

SMU’s student chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has received the national organization’s highest honor: the Domestic Student Chapter of the Year. The recognition includes a $1,000 scholarship from oil and gas industry supplier Schlumberger. SMU’s was the first AAPG student chapter in the nation; Hamilton Chair in Earth Sciences David Blackwell, Dedman College, is its faculty sponsor. Read more. (Left, student chapter members Jason Bell, Andrés Ruzo and Philip Klintmalm at a Barnett Shale drilling site.)