Graphic Design Student Wins Prestigious National Award

A photo of Matt Hennessey standing with another award winner

From left: Matt Hennessey was recognized with local award recipient Sara David at the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Chapter Awards luncheon earlier this month.

USF St. Petersburg graphic design sophomore Matt Hennessey is the recipient of regional and national awards in Visual Arts from the National Society of Arts and Letters. Earlier this month, Hennessey received $250 as a Winston Art Scholarship finalist from the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Chapter and was notified that he also was the recipient of a $1,000 national Naomi Rabb Winston Scholarship in Two-Dimensional Art. The scholarship will be used for a two-week apprenticeship in silkscreen printing with master printer Erik Hougen at the renowned Lower East Side Print Shop in New York City.

“I was very excited to have received this award,” said Hennessey, 20, who hails from Palm Harbor. For as long as he can remember, Hennessey said, he has had a love for art. “I’m glad the NSAL enjoyed my piece as much as I did making it.”

The piece is an eight-page book that is a study of various silkscreen techniques. Hennessey said he made the book while he was learning to use silkscreen processes for the first time. Engaging in the use of stencils, drawings, and black-and-white and color photography, the art becomes increasingly more detailed with each page. The goal was to explore how images can be broken down while remaining identifiable.

Hennessey describes the book as an exercise in various screen printing techniques.

“It is important that USFSP students can compete on a national level and win,” said Erika Greenberg-Schneider, assistant professor of graphic design at USFSP, who mentored Hennessey. Greenberg-Schneider is an internationally-renowned master printmaker who was honored by France as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2011 for her contributions toward the recognition of French art and culture. “For the arts community, it is recognition that the university is doing an excellent job teaching the arts.”

Although Hennessey is the first known USFSP student to receive the national award, he is not the first to receive the regional award. In 2013, Sierra Schneider was the first place scholarship recipient in printmaking, and James Foster was the second place scholarship recipient in a competition sponsored by the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Society of Arts and Letters.