The winner of this year’s Thomas George Artists Fund Award is Shannon Ehrola, who will graduate this spring from The College of New Jersey with a BFA in Fine Arts and a minor in Digital Arts.

Ehrola hails from Brielle, New Jersey. Her paintings and drawings focus on portraiture and the representation of identity. She explores the physical and emotional characteristics that comprise an individual’s identity and seeks ways to best illustrate them while combating the limitations of conventional portraiture.

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During the landing of Hurricane Sandy, Ehrola lost contact with her family. With no cell service or power in her home town, the only way to learn any news of the status of the area was to monitor social media sites for photos of the destruction. Her Hurricane Project documents and interprets these images in a series of 300 note card drawings:

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[quote]“Immediately following formal training, an artist may feel a bit lost at sea.  That along with possible financial pressures can discourage even the most talented and dedicated.  I want to help provide an opportunity for young artists to concentrate on their craft and to experience art as a full-time occupation.” (Thomas George)[/quote]

The Thomas George Artists Fund awards grants to support an artist engaged in drawing and painting for up to six months directly following his or her graduation from art school or college; or for a student studying art but not seeking a degree, directly following his or her completion of the school or college’s art program coursework. Thomas George is an internationally recognized artist whose work is included in the permanent collections of major museums, universities, corporations and private collections worldwide. He counts himself fortunate for having received financial support early on to study and practice his art. Learn more about his story here …

George, who is 96 years old this year, selected the award winner following a review of applications and artistic portfolios. “I was intrigued and impressed by Shannon’s work and the immense commitment she has already shown as a young artist. Her drawings of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy are wrenching … but they are also the mark of a powerful talent: in a time of crisis, she turned to her art to express herself and to make sense of the world.”

self_portrait_india_ink_18_x_24_2013 See more of Ehrola’s work at