SUU Student Selected in Prestigious Illustration Competition

Published: April 22, 2021 | Author: Ashley H Palmer | Read Time: 3 minutes

The Cliff by Morgan JensenSUU College of Performing and Visual Arts Illustration student, Morgan Jensen, had a piece of her artwork accepted into the Society of Illustrators New York Annual Student competition. This is the most competitive, prestigious competition for students in the country. Out of about 6,780 submissions representing 56 schools, only 163 pieces were selected to be in-show this year. 

Morgan Jensen, senior Illustration major from Cache Valley, Utah, shared, “This was my first time submitting to Society of Illustrators New York, although I had submitted to their sister organization, Society of Illustrators LA (SILA), a few times before. I submitted at the advice of my professor, Hala Swearingen. I chose three pieces from the last year that I felt were my strongest.” 

Jensen didn't think her chances would be high when submitting to the more prestigious New York show. In fact, the competition only had a 2% acceptance rate this year. Making it into the show, Jensen explained, “was really validating, honestly. It was confirmation that these last four years working so hard to get my work to a professional level had finally paid off. It just goes to show that no matter what you think your chances are, you should always keep submitting to shows. You never know when you'll get your lucky break!”

Hala Swearingen, Associate Professor of Illustration, said, “Morgan is an impressive individual and a talented illustrator. She is one of the most organized and dependable artists I know! We have been so lucky to have her in our program at SUU. She deserves this recognition in the Society of Illustrators New York competition very much and I know she has the drive and dedication to pursue a professional illustration career.”

Jensen went on to say, “My two biggest passions in art are storytelling and color. The purpose of my work is to create a compelling visual narrative that will draw in my audience. I aim to create characters that come alive in a viewer’s mind; environments that sweep you away to somewhere new; conceptual artwork that elicits emotion and redefines beauty. My goal is for the viewer to step into a world I’ve created, if only for a moment. I work digitally, and my pieces usually contain a strong sense of line, with rendering styles varying from cell shading to painting. Much of my work is saturated, moody, and atmospheric. These are things that make up my ‘style’, and it remains consistent throughout my work. Despite this consistency, there are as many interpretations of the work as there are people who view it. Thousands of narratives flow from each piece I create, and that, to me, is what makes art beautiful.”

Congratulations to Morgan Jensen! We can’t wait to see where her art takes her after graduation. Her artwork can be viewed at Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) as part of the 2021 Senior BFA Exhibition now through May 1, 2021. For more information about the Department of Art & Design at SUU, please visit

About the College of Performing and Visual Arts

The College of Performing and Visual Arts (CPVA) at Southern Utah University comprises 26 academic programs including liberal arts (BA/BS) and professional (BFA, BM, BMEd) degrees in art, design, dance, music, and theatre. It includes graduate programs in the fields of arts administration (MFA, MA), music education (MME), and music technology (MM). More than 60 full-time faculty and staff are engaged in teaching and mentoring nearly 800 majors in the College. CPVA presents over 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year and is affiliated with the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the Center for Shakespeare Studies. Southern Utah University is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD), National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) making SUU the first public university in the state of Utah to be accredited by all four associations. For more information about the College of Performing and Visual Arts, visit

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