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SWT art instructor wins Haas Foundation award

Date released: 04/21/03

SAN MARCOS — Southwest Texas State University art instructor Jill Pankey placed second at the ongoing 37th Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Exhibition at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi with her pencil piece “Entangled.”

The juried exhibition of diverse, contemporary drawings and sculpture by artists from all over the United States has become one of the most prestigious and competitive in the Southwest. Held in the Joseph A. Cain Memorial Gallery on the Del Mar College campus, the exhibition admission is free and open to the public and runs through May 2.

The sculptures and drawings were judged by artist Brian Paulsen. “Entangled” was among four selections that received more than $3,000 in total awards, purchases and prizes.

“It’s kind of a big deal to get into. I’ve tried several times to get into it, and I finally did and won the Paul and Mary Haas Foundation Award,” said Pankey, a first-time exhibitor at the show. “It’s a real diverse group of artists. They go from one extreme to the other. There’s a lot of very contemporary art. Every piece could’ve won. I’m just glad the judge thought I was valuable that day.

“My exact reaction was one of total surprise,” she said. “I got the award in the mail, and it didn’t come with a letter or anything explaining it. I was actually afraid to cash the check because I was afraid they’d made a mistake.”

There’s no mistaking that things are rolling Pankey’s way. A graduate of SWT with a degree in All-Level Art Education, she also holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas-San Antonio. After spending 26 years in Corpus Christi where she established herself as a prominent artist along the Coastal Bend, Pankey recently returned to San Marcos and now teaches 2D design and drawing classes at SWT. She also has upcoming shows at the F8 Gallery in Kerrville in June and at Del Rio in August.

Somewhat surprisingly, Pankey’s victory at the exhibition came for a medium she’s not well known for. The vast majority of her work consists of paintings with bright, vivid colors, so a black-and-white pencil sketch was something of a departure.

“I am a painter, but I always do studies and drawings first. Occasionally I’ll do detailed drawings,” she explained. “My subject matter is basically women. When I began, I decided to stick with something I knew more about than anything else.

“I’ve always have used a lot of bright color in my work. There’s not a lot of grey zone there—either you like bright color or not. I used to wonder about my paintings, ‘Where’s all this color coming from?’ I grew up near the Mexican border, and I think I was influenced by that,” Pankey said. “I love painting in color, but I love black and white work as well. It’s the in-between that I can kind of do without.”

A gallery of Pankey’s art may be viewed online at