ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 22, 2019) – Emerging artist Alannee May Noel of St. Petersburg has a neurological vision disorder that she uses as inspiration for her art. In overcoming her challenges, she’s become so successful that she’s been awarded a scholarship from Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts.
The TBBCA’s Charlie Hounchell Art Stars Scholarship for visual arts will help her continue her education at the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Noel doesn’t have a preferred medium, but enjoys both photography and interactive installations.
Noel recently graduated from the Pinellas County Center for the Arts in St. Petersburg, where she was president of the school’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society. She also has won the Dali Museum’s Student Surrealist Exhibition Award of Excellence for her paintings.
“She is dealing with a lot of mature things in her work you usually see in an artist once they come out of a Bachelor in Fine Arts or Masters in Fine Arts program,” said Joanna Robotham, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Tampa Museum of Art, who was a judge for the scholarship competition. “Alannee is thinking about how you communicate your own identity and feelings about who you are through visual imagery. She’s thinking about one’s place in the world and how it relates to universal things.”
The Charlie Hounchell Art Stars Scholarship was founded 11 years ago to recognize artistic prodigies in the Tampa Bay area and provide financial assistance to support future endeavors.
Noel’s neurological vision disorder causes visual “static” or spots in her vision. But instead of being a drawback, the disorder has become an influence for her art. Noel remembers writing stories and drawing characters in elementary school as a way to express herself, and art became a passion.
She used a novel approach to explore visual impairment as she brainstormed ideas for her interactive installation, “sky gaze for me.” Noel was blindfolded in a white room and invited guests to lie down next to her and describe to her the image of the sky that was projected on the ceiling.
“People often ask me to explain how my vision is, but it is something that is essentially indescribable to people without that condition,” she said. “Sky gazing is something I enjoy, but my visual static makes it difficult to look at the sky for long periods of time.”
“sky gaze for me” was part of her senior thesis, which won an award in the National YoungArts Foundation’s annual competition, recognizing her as one of the nation’s most promising young visual artists.
The non-profit Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts also awarded six other Charlie Hounchell scholarships in various arts disciplines to help fund college educations. Scholarship founder and former TBBCA president Charlie Hounchell was a St. Petersburg native who worked as an attorney, real estate and business entrepreneur, and community activist.
TBBCA is the first in Florida and one of the national Business Committees for the Arts, and part of the national private sector network and pARTnership Movement of Americans for the Arts. Since the non-profit’s founding in 1989 by business leaders, the Tampa Bay BCA has played a crucial leadership role connecting businesses in awareness and support of a thriving business and arts and cultural sector – one that creates jobs, generates revenue, serves as a cornerstone of tourism, helps attract and retain businesses and draws “the best and the brightest” workforce highly sought by employers.
The Impact Awards, TBBCA’s annual fundraiser benefiting the scholarships and programs, is on October 10 at Armature Works in Tampa. For information on tickets and sponsorships, go to www.tbbca.org/ImpactAwards2019 or contact TBBCA Executive Director Susana Weymouth at 813-221-2787.