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Red Bull Canvas Cooler Project Winners are Academy Grads

Both winners in the recent Red Bull Canvas Cooler Project competition that was held in San Francisco are Academy of Art University graduates. School of Fine Art’s Akira Beard took top prize in the judged portion, while School of Illustration and Graphic Design’s Slvstr won the People's Choice voting.

beard-cooler-smallThe Red Bull Canvas Cooler Project consists of canvas-wrapped coolers were the medium for twenty handpicked artists to work their visual magic for the Red Bull Curates. More than 1,200 art-loving spectators took in the competition, and the top prizes went to two former Academy of Art University students, Akira and Slvstr.

beard-cooler-smallRed Bull’s Cooler Project is roaming across the nation, stopping in seven cities to pair DJ-enhanced parties with inspiring works by emerging artists. The San Francisco event, held at the Public Works performance space/gallery, was the first of the tour. In addition to getting an opportunity to show their creations at SCOPE Miami during Art Basel in December 2013, participating artists are matched up with popular clubs, bars and restaurants in the host cities; the works conceived for the competition go on display in these venues.

Judges were Dorka Keehn, Commissioner of the City of San Francisco Arts Commission, Maria Jenson, Director of ArtPadSF and Elisa Stephens, President of Academy of Art University.

Commenting on the process, Stephens said, “I looked at the combination of the creative eye, the skill, the concept and the theory all in one. I paid attention to color, line, design and composition. I tried to look at the integration of what the artist was trying to express, and for those that expressed it well with originality and composition and excitement, that’s the direction I went in.”

Akira said he painted his cooler with acrylics and without an agenda, commenting that he wanted to “experiment with being vulnerable.” He recalled that on his way to work on the project, he was listening to a lecture on nirvana, samsara and Buddhist philosophy; this influenced his design. “I painted a head from my imagination on one side, expressing samsara, and used a quote from the lecture that I memorized on the way here,” Akira explained. “On the other side I did a piece about nirvana, and I wanted the colors and copy to reflect that.”

By the time spectator votes were counted for the People’s Choice late in the evening of the competition, audience members were chanting “sl-vs-tr, sl-vs-tr!” When Slvstr was announced the winner, his supporters lifted him on their shoulders in celebration. “I am geeked that everyone came out tonight,” he said. “It’s dope to be around a lot of people that I look up to, and then to be accepted and to actually win … it’s huge for me.”

The next event for the Red Bull Curates: The Canvas Cooler Project will be held in Los Angeles in March, followed by Chicago in May, Dallas in June, New York in September, Atlanta in November, and ending in Miami in December.


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