Brian Ralph

Office of Advancement hosts 2022 Student Art Contest

The 2022 Student Art Contest, hosted by the Office of Advancement, gave students a chance to create art that reflects their favorite spots on campus or to illustrate what WPU means to them. 

Two students won this year’s prestigious contest and were awarded Bookstore gift cards. Along with this, the first-place winner’s art will be displayed in the Main Building. Last year’s winning piece, “Fountain and Flora” by Leilani Nguyen ’22, is currently hung in the University Advancement’s office.

1st place: Owen Gibson ‘24 

Piece Title: Hawk on the Fountain

Medium: Photography

Owen Gibson ‘24 has had a lifetime passion for photography — always ready to snap a beautiful photo at a moment’s notice. This year, his eyes caught what he knew would be the perfect picture: a hawk sitting on top of WPU’s iconic fountain. 

Known by the WPU community as the campus hawk, this bird has been seen for years flying around campus. Occasionally, it lands on the fountain — Gibson happened to capture one of these moments with his Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G. And now, his photo won first place in WPU’s Student Art Contest. 

“I want to showcase my artwork, and Photoshop skills to other students, and I like expressing my creativity,” he said. “How often do you see a rare occurrence like this?”

From Washington D.C., Owen Gibson ‘24 transferred to WPU in Fall 2022 from a community college. He was drawn to WPU for it’s award winning Simulation and Game Design Major. In 2020, WPU was named the Best Game Design College in North Carolina by 

Since coming here, he’s enjoyed WPU’s location in the heart of Downtown Raleigh.

Additionally, he’s valued the real-world experience his professors bring to the classroom. In a graphic design course, he learned skills that helped him edit his piece for this contest.

“I am using the skills I learned in class to edit the picture,” Gibson said. “I performed some color correction by using the threshold effect to detect the brightest spots, put the eyedropper tool in the brightest spots, then I dragged the brightness slider to the edge of where the brightness increases. I then added a hue/saturation effect and changed the saturation.”

Gibson heard about the contest through his mom. He entered so he had a chance to make others happy through his artwork. Now, he’s honored to win first place. 

Piece Title: Peace Power

Medium: Procreate on an IPad 12

For Jacob Trump ’25, his submission is more than just a drawing, it’s conveying what WPU means to him. Trump was inspired by how WPU’s light shines bright despite the larger schools surrounding it. 

WPU is a small college but leads students with strong purposes and ideas. Peace is surrounded by all these bigger schools and is usually left in the dust,” he said. “I want my piece to represent that being a small college, dosen’t mean you can’t challenge yourself and achieve big dreams. WPU takes advantage of its small environment to surround students with talented and smart professors who are located in a city with loads of opportunities. WPU has so much to boast about.”

Trump entered the contest to stretch his artistic abilities and see how his artistic style could fit into the contest’s creative prompt. In 2021, Trump entered the contest and won third place with his digital piece “Freeing Chains of Peace.” 

His art has made headlines off-campus. In Spring 2022, he created a piece that was featured on a mug at the Raleigh Roasts event. Additionally, in Fall 2022 he was invited to draw live Halloween-themed illustrations at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Monster Draw Rally. 

Trump also draws illustrations for the student newspaper, The Peace Times. 

He loves to enter art contests to challenge and grow his skills. The contests push him to refine his style on tight deadlines. It also gives him a chance to share his creativity with others.

“While my art is always a personal achievement for me, I also create it because I want to make people happy,” he said. “I want to give joy through my work.”

Originally from Cary, North Carolina, Trump’s artistic style has been cultivated by a love of animations and cartoons. He grew up trying to draw the cartoon characters he saw on screen. Now, those skills are being honed in his studies as a Simulation and Game Design Major and Communications Major.

Related Articles


WPU Inspires Courageous Confidence

WPU Inspires Courageous Confidence

Courageous Confidence (noun): the strength to persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or challenges and to do so boldly. To grow and persist in the face of the unknown.

read more