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

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SMU archaeologist and art historian Karl Kilinski II dies

Karl Kilinski II, SMU University Distinguished Professor of Art HistoryUniversity Distinguished Teaching Professor Karl Kilinski II died of natural causes Jan. 6, 2011. He was 64.

An archaeologist, art historian and perpetual traveler to exotic lands, Kilinski was born in New Orleans on April 24, 1946, to Karl and Virginia Oliver Kilinski. He received his Ph.D. in Classical Art History and Archaeology from the University of Missouri in 1974.

At Southern Methodist University, he was a University Distinguished Teaching Professor, teaching classical art, Greek myth and art, and Egyptian art. He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards in his field, including Outstanding Professor and Godbey Lecture Series Author Award.

As an archaeologist, Kilinski participated in both underwater and land excavations in Greece. He was a senior research fellow for the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece; director of Academic Programs in Greece, Japan and Cairo; board member of The Society for the Preservation of Greek Heritage; and a member of the Ambassador’s Committee of Friends of Greece.

He was widely published in scholarly journals and the author of several books on the subjects of Greek vase painting and myth in art. His most recent work, Greek Myth in Western Art, has just been accepted for publication by Cambridge University Press. His other books include Classical Myth in Western Art: Ancient through Modern (Meadows Museum, Dallas, 1985); Boeotian Black Figure Vase Painting of the Archaic Period (Philipp von Zabern Verlag, 1990); Gods, Men, and Heroes, co-author (The University of Washington Press, 1996); Jupiter’s Loves and His Children, co-editor (Georgia Museum of Art, 1997) and author of the introductory essay “Jupiter in Art Through Time” in The Flight of Icarus Through Western Art (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002).

Kilinski’s educational tours focused on the Mediterranean, Turkey, Egypt and Africa. He had guest curatorships and was a symposium organizer for various museums, including the Kimbell Art Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, San Antonio Art Museum and the Meadows Museum of Art and the Archaeological Institute of America.

At SMU, he served on the Advisory Committee to International Programs, as well as the review committees for the Classical Studies Program and Medieval Studies Program. He was also involved in the Master of Liberal Studies Program and served as chair of the Division of Art History 1981-87 and 1998-2001.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials be made to The Karl Kilinski II Fund, Southern Methodist University, P.O. Box 750281, Dallas, TX 75275-0281.

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