Design by Mel Woodard/AS Publicity Center

Evan Marczynski/The AS Review

As the school year winds down, this week marks the start of the 15th annual Beyond Borders art competition in the VU Gallery.

Beyond Borders will run from May 17 to June 4. There is a total of 41 pieces in the exhibit, which have been submitted by 22 different student artists.

VU Gallery Coordinator Allie Paul said that Beyond Borders is an annual, international art competition that is open to student artists from Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia.

Paul said that this year the majority of the pieces have been submitted by Western students, although there also are a number of other pieces from artists who live outside of the Bellingham area.

She said the purpose of the show is to stimulate dialogue between artists living in different locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition, the show gives artists an opportunity to gain experience displaying their work in a gallery.

“It’s really just a chance for student artists to display their work in a professional setting,” Paul said.

Beyond Borders accepts submissions from a wide variety of different artistic mediums, although Paul said photography pieces make up a majority of the submissions in this year’s competition. However, there are also paintings, sculptures and even lithographs on display.

At the end of the show, a reception will be held to hand out awards to the top three pieces selected by a panel of judges. The reception will be held in the Gallery on June 3 from 6 to 8 p.m.

This year’s panel is made up of three members of the local art community: Paul Brewer, a curator with Western’s art gallery; Garth Amundson, an associate professor of photography; and Kelly Hart, the executive director of Allied Arts of Whatcom County.

Paul said each award winner will receive a monetary prize that is determined by the amount of money collected from the $5 entry fee that each artist submited at the beginning of the show.

Last year there were around 120 submissions to the competition and the three winners were given awards that together totaled around $1,000, Paul said.

There will also be a free catalogue of all entries available at the June 3 reception. However, Paul said the supply of catalogues is limited.

More information on the competition can be found on the Beyond Borders website at

Paul said she likes to think of Beyond Borders as the finale of a great year of art exhibitions at the VU Gallery.

“We always have it as our last show of the year,” Paul said. “I think the exhibit has a lot to offer for all different kinds of people.”