One Special Student Shines In the Student Honors Exhibit

By Katrice Johnson

On April 26, Pensacola State College held an award night for the Students that were in the Student Honors Art Exhibit.  There were several contestants and a few winners however, one of the winners stood out above the rest.  Her name is Amber Sidner.


Although Amber is not a native Pensacolian, she has taken to Pensacola like water to a duck and has excelled in the art department at Pensacola State College.  After putting in turning in 10 art pieces for the show 8 were accepted and 4 were awarded including one piece being accepted in the Art department permanent collection for art shows.  I had a chance to sit down with the District Academic Department Head of Visual Arts Krist Lien what goes into the choosing of the artwork by students.

PVOICE: What is the process for selecting candidates for the student show winners?


Lien: Once the show goes up all the faculty has time to go around and look at and judges the work as to what has been presented in the student show only.   It has nothing to do with the student being in the class or thinking that about work that may not be in the show the student has done.  It is simply what has been presented in the show.  What ends up in the show is the best of the best and that is why it’s called Student Honors Show.   Once everyone has a chance to look at it then all the teachers and faculty meet and vote on the each piece.  The students are ranked and categorized by artwork.  Once we do that we see who has the most votes and then once that is done we look at the awards and give out the highest awards who received the most votes.


PVOICE: I noticed that Amber Sidner had won 4 different awards is that the most that any student has ever won?


Lien:  I’m not sure, I do know that we have had students in the past when at least four, but it‘s not very often that that happens.  However, Amber entered several different pieces from several different classes and the more you put it the more it increases your odds of winning.


PVOICE: I noticed that you chose one of her pieces as a permanent collection why did you choose that particular piece?


Lien:  We started that several years ago when Bill Clover started selling his mugs so that we could purchase student artwork as permanent pieces, however, we take that very seriously and because it has be a great piece of work for it go in with our permanent pieces.  We have artist like Picasso, Batiste, Cristo and so if the artwork of the student is not up to caliber we just hold onto the money and for another year and wait until the pieces the student present are.


PVOICE:  Where you the one announcing the winners of the awards, if so how did it make you feel to see Amber coming up each time?


Lien:  It felt good because it’s a win win situation.  This year we gave a little over $17k in scholarships and awards to the students.  There is always interest in the school and people are always willing to donate and for this cause so it really does pan out to be a really good endeavor for our students.


After talking with Krist Lien I then started talking with Amber Sidner.


PVOICE: What made you want to become an artist?


Sidner:  It’s another form of expression besides physical or verbal.  I think it’s the best way of really letting a person know what’s going on inside of your mind.


PVOICE:  How did you become an artist?


Sidner:  My mom was very open to creative ways of expressing ourselves and we used it as therapy growing up in a lot of difficult situations.  So, that’s where is spawned from whether musically, written and visually we got it all growing up.  That is were I developed the passion for it.


PVOICE: What got you to Pensacola?


Sidner:  I got into some issues with domestic violence and needed a place to slip away to so, I came here and pretty much started over.  I went through homelessness and lost contact with family and when through some every troubling times, but that is what brought me here.


PVOICE:  What made you want to come to Pensacola State College?


Sidner: Well, I had had it in the back of my mind that I always wanted to pursue my degree and I tried to in Texas years ago for the wrong field and when I came across a booth at an event in Pensacola, there was all types of information on Pensacola State College and the people were very friendly and seemed like a good place to start back over again.  Plus I knew it would be affordable so I kept the school in the back of my mind.  When the time finally came Pensacola State was the first place I applied to.

PCVOICE:  You recently won awards during the Student Honors Exhibit how many did you actually submit?


Sidner:  I tried to submit more, but I had a problem with my email so, I ended up submitting 10 and 7 were accepted.  Out of that I got 4 awards.

PCVOICE:  In the process of winning the awards what was going through your mind?

Sidner:  Initially shock and then gratitude.  Just thinking about it makes me want to cry because I highly respect the teachers in this department and just the recognition.  Realizing the work that I put into my pieces, it means so much to me.  I mean the recognition means so much more to me than the actual prizes.  Just hearing my name called was such a great honor.


PVOICE:  What do you see for yourself in the future?


Sidner: I’m so excited about the future.  I have always known that this was something I wanted to do.  I’ve always known that one day something like this would happen and being hear with all these amazing people, I finally realized how I can focus all of my creative energy into my art.


I have found that I love illustrating and because I love to reading and books I think that I want to do something like illustrations for books in the future.  Now I’m getting the means to pursue that as a future for myself and ultimately for my children as well.  So, I’m just so excited about my opportunities and the future.


PVOICE:  What are your plans for the near future?


Sidner:  Taking in as much as I can.  I plan to buckle down and facilitating that information that I have already received and using it in my future artwork.  I am going to try to keep making myself better and learn from my mistakes.  Use what I have learned so I can grow as an artist.  That’s my plan for the near future.

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