West Windsor, N.J. – Surprised, happy, excited. Oh, and jaw-dropping. That’s how Mercer County Community College (MCCC) alumna Megan Serfass ’18 (A.A.S., Illustration), of West Windsor, recalls reacting when her name was announced for the Best in Show prize at this year’s Mercer County Artists (MCA) Awards Reception on May 22.
“Honestly, I was just happy to be accepted into the show. I was not expecting to win anything,” she said.
The prize, which is sponsored by Blick Art Supplies, comes with a monetary award and plenty of bragging rights. Many of the selected artists are decades older than this talented 22-year-old and have been featured in MCA multiple times in the past.
Serfass’s award-winning painting, entitled “Goldfinches,” measures just 8” x 10,” but is vivid in color and rich in detail. It’s deceptively straightforward at first glance, until the viewer looks closer and realizes that the frame is part of the painting, appearing so real that it could easily be mistaken for a three-dimensional frame.
Serfass says that currently she is intrigued by Trompe L’Oeil (trick of the eye) art. She is working on a number of projects from her home studio and says that winning the prize was encouraging. “It gives me a little more confidence to keep moving forward with my art,” she said.
When Serfass enrolled at MCCC after graduating from West Windsor-Plainsboro North High School, she was already planning to study art, as well as illustration, a skill that can more easily lead to a job. She took many art classes – in painting, illustration, art history, and two- and three-dimensional design.
She gives all of her art classes high marks. “I liked every one of my professors, especially Kyle Stevenson [Painting], Tina LaPlaca [Graphic Design], and Leilani Hickerson [IIlustration],” she said. “They allowed students to explore their strengths and helped us when we needed it. Classes were small and professors would work with each student individually. I definitely saw improvement in my work.”
She recalls that at the conclusion of each semester, there would be a group critique in her art classes. “We all critiqued each other’s work. It was a supportive environment. Everyone would become friends by the end.”
Serfass exhibited in both the 2017 and 2018 Visual Arts Student Exhibitions. The first year, she painted her cat, while the second year, she depicted red birds incorporated into an elaborate swirl-patterned background.
Serfass says she gets inspiration from nature and the animal world. “If I see something beautiful, I want to paint it.”
While the employment potential in illustration is greater, for now, Serfass is focusing on what she loves most – painting. “I have a bunch of paintings stacked up at home. I am running out of space,” she said.
For those considering studying art at Mercer, Serfass thinks that’s a great idea. “I loved it. My art classes were some of my favorite times.”
Mercer County Artists features works by 36 artists and runs through July 8 at the Gallery at Mercer, 1200 Old Trenton Road. For details and gallery hours, click here.