Introducing the Engage Art Contest’s Summer Quarterly Staff Picks!

Engage Art | In the Know | August 19, 2021

The 2022 Engage Art Contest just completed its first quarter! Three whole months  receiving original art from around leaves us excited about current entries and eager for more! We are honestly blown away by the diversity and quality of the artwork. Please browse our 2022 Gallery to explore it for yourself.

After extended conversation and deliberation, we were unable to choose a single visual or video artwork for our first Quarterly Pick. Ultimately, we decided to honor two artists in each category this quarter. We think you’ll see why all four of these artworks deserve recognition.

Summer Quarterly Staff Picks | Video Art 

(for entries included in the EA Gallery from 5/1/2021 to 7/31/2021)

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free by Brian Mark

“Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” by Brian Mark

Composer and multi-media artist Brian Mark wove visuals and original music together to create an emotionally compelling video. He writes: ”My work submitted for this competition, ‘Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ is a recent multi-media, multi-disciplinary work that was created in response to COVID-19. The title is a verse taken from Emma Lazarus’s iconic 1883 poem ‘The New Colossus,’ which was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty.”

Brian’s film begins with a photo-negative treatment of the Statue of Liberty that sets the tone for the images that follow. Thanks to the social distancing required to be safe in the pandemic, everything is inside-out and “not as it should be.” 

His original composition for trombone and digital delay processing pedal is placed in the able hands of Cole Bartels, a trombonist pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in trombone performance at the University of Wisconsin. At turns  mournful and anxious, Cole’s emotional performance heightens the impact of the images. Brian’s choice to use an instrument typically only heard in an ensemble, but now played all alone, was an inspired  solution to create this meditation on solitude.

Brian described how his artwork connects to the Spiritual Battle:

“I truly believe the onset of the Coronavirus was primarily a spiritual battle on mankind, as there are forces in this world that have contributed to this pandemic to create chaos, fear and death, which as of today has taken the lives of over 400,000 people worldwide (100,000 in the US) [updated statistics can be found here]. We are now experiencing a new way of living, or a new “normal,” where our interactions and movements are being calculated and watched from every corner.”

Brian Mark is a New York City-based composer and pianist. His music has been performed by notable ensembles and featured at festivals from Oregon to London. He was awarded the 2016 Jerome Composers Commissioning Program/Jerome Fund and was awarded multiple artist residencies at the I-Park Artists’ Enclave, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and the Ucross Foundation. Brian was awarded  his PhD from the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Gary Carpenter. He is also a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Berklee College of Music, and Boston University. Please visit Brian’s website, www.brianjmark.com, for more information about his work.


Speak Victory by Korey Merritt

“Speak Victory” by Korey Merritt

We loved the short form storytelling in Speak Victory from the opening to the final credits. The first shot lingers on children’s pictures propped behind the steering wheel, giving the viewer an immediate window into this man’s life, no dialogue necessary. Filmmaker Korey Merritt created a soundtrack to fill in the details: the battery trying to turn over, the sirens in the distance, and finally, the door opening as the protagonist decides to walk home. 

This film relates a modern fairy tale, unlikely but brimming with good advice and cautionary tales. We watch as characters experience inner conflict, make hard choices, and express faith in God in some of their hardest moments. We see the spiritual battle expressed in relatatable ways through the struggles faced by both characters in this short three minutes. Overall, it’s a timeless message about the spiritual battle, the role we play in one another’s lives, and how God moves through our circumstances. 

Korey Merritt is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, who enjoys creating compelling stories and expressing art through film. His film company is Merritt Filmz.


Summer Quarterly Staff Picks | VISUAL ART

(for entries included in the EA Gallery from 5/1/2021 to 7/31/2021)

The Shield Is Me! by Aldo Muzzarelli

“The Shield Is Me!” by Aldo Muzzarelli

In the mixed-media artwork The Shield Is Me!, Aldo Muzzarelli brings a young woman to life with great control of the values (the relative lights and darks), especially in the details of her face and hands. We were captivated by the rusted nails haphazardly hammered into the top of the frame. Do the nails allude to the crucifixion of Christ, referencing the “helmet of salvation” that sits above the believer, literally a “just out of frame” crown and protection? The umbrella is frail, wrinkling against the rain, yet the woman holding it is not worried. Maybe she has peace in knowing that something stronger is protecting her?

The scales raining down on this woman are the opposite of rusted nails. Bright, shining, vibrantly colored, and arrayed in a mesmerizing pattern, the contrast with the nails is striking. Perhaps the “strange rain,” as Aldo describes it, alludes to Evil presenting itself in the guise of beauty and novelty. This woman is not dressed for the rain, yet her face is serene. Most importantly, none of the rain touches her. 

Aldo describes the piece in this way:

“A young woman protects herself from a strange rain with an umbrella. Her serene expression denotes the assurance that calm will soon come. . . . According Ephesians 6: 10-20, we must prepare for a battle, but not for a physical but for a spiritual battle.”

Does this artwork invite you to reflect on your “umbrella” against the “strange rain” that may fall in your own life? 

Aldo Muzzarelli is a Venezuelan-born Artist. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Central University of Venezuela and he served for several years as Director of Culture of his hometown. He has exhibited his work in Venezuela, the United States, and Italy, earning awards and recognition. Aldo currently resides in Mauldin, South Carolina, and divides his time and work between Venezuela, the United States and Spain. Please visit his website, www.muzzarelli-diaz-art.com,  for more information about his artwork. 


Eternal Perspective by Lukus Edmison

“Eternal Perspective” by Lukus Edmison

We found Eternal Perspective to be visually and conceptually stunning. The 1,218 detailed spools of thread reference Ecclesiastes 12:1-8, which begins: “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old.” Artist Lukus Edmison used his own grandfather’s glasses to create the focal point of this artwork about a young man “looking  through the lens of his late grandpa’s glasses.” 

We find the lighting, old floor boards breaking through to reveal the new, and the forced perspective of the array all intriguing.  How is the contrast between old and new an important part of this artwork? 

The thread acts as a timeline of sorts. More than 122 miles of it is white before we get to the ¼” of red, representing the lifetime of one man, glimpsed through his own abandoned glasses through the eyes of his grandson. Lukus writes, “The young man recognized that at the end of his life, the grandpa was staring deep into the face of eternity, which caused him to see this life for what it really is: a vapor. A tiny red blotch on a seemingly endless amount of white thread.” 

What an interesting way to approach an understanding of the spiritual battle, as a deliberation on the concept of life and time. The choices and challenges that seem so monumental in the moment fade to insignificance against the scale of human life on Earth, before you consider all of creation, or—inconceivable by our brains—eternity. When you engage with this artwork, do you find yourself identifying more with the young man or the grandfather? Do you think often about eternity? 

Lukus Edmison is a professional artist based in Chandler, Arizona. Lukus graduated from Western Bible College and credits God as “the Master Artist” who “created me with the ability to create in several different mediums including oil painting, drawing, pyrography [also known as woodburning and fire needle embroidery], woodworking, and some writing including songwriting (with guitar).” Please visit Lukus’s website, www.lukusart.com, to learn more about his art practice.


So Many More

Narrowing down our Quarterly Picks was not easy. There were several honorable mentions in very close contention. We’ll be adding several favorites to the “Highlights” collection in our Gallery. Be sure to check them out! Artists around the world are submitting such wonderful art to the 2022 Engage Art Contest. Did you know we already have more than 50 submissions from 18 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Croatia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Mexico, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia? We hope you will explore the gallery, upvote your favorites, and click through to the artist’s profiles to learn more about them. 

We also hope you’ll spread the word about the Engage Art Contest! The new Quarterly Pick program is our team’s way to honor a few favorites among artwork submitted each quarter. Staff Quarterly Picks will occur again for new entries in the gallery by October 31, 2021; January 31, 2022; and April 14, 2022. Our expert jury will wipe the slate clean and consider all submissions anew once the contest closes in spring 2022. 

Are you working on your Engage Art submission right now? Do you need to let your artist friends know about the contest? We will continue to accept Visual and Video Art submissions of all genres all through 2021, and up until our contest deadline of April 14, 2022 (midnight ET).

Submit Your Artwork Today!

Curious? Interested in submitting artwork to our contest? Know someone who might be? Through April 14th, 2022, the Engage Art Contest is open to the whole world! Get your foot in the door by claiming your Artist Page now!