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Harlem Artist Wins Columbia 250 Community Festival Poster Contest
Norman Messiah's painting captures the individuals who make a community.

Artists of all mediums speak for their communities. So when designer and artist Norman Messiah, a longtime Harlem Arts Alliance member, won first prize in a judged art competition to create the artwork for a commemorative poster representing the upcoming Columbia 250 Community Festival, he was especially honored. Messiah will be awarded a $300 cash prize and his work, "Community Block Party," oil on canvas, 36" X 24," will serve as the basis for a poster commemorating this historic occasion.

"It was very timely for me to enter the competition. I was working on this piece when I heard about the competition through the Harlem Arts Alliance and I decided to enter," Messiah said. "I am so honored -- I'm tickled pink. I cannot explain how exhilarating it is to win something from Columbia."

"Norman Messiah is a very respected creative force in the Harlem community, and the judges were delighted that his vision fit the theme, 'Community: Living and Learning with Neighbors,'" said noted artist and Art Director for Harlem Arts Alliance Ademola Olugebefola, one of four judges on the panel not affiliated with Columbia.

In July, the University reached out to members of its neighboring communities to participate in a contest to create the artwork for a commemorative poster representing the Columbia 250 Community Festival. Artists of any age, professional or amateur, were encouraged to submit entries.

The submissions were so good that the judges decided to award two additional prizes: Jeffrey Sissorhand was awarded second prize, and Sajidah Pressley, a 12-year-old student at the Children's Art Carnival, was awarded third prize.

The artwork was judged by a panel of professional artists from Upper Manhattan as well as representatives of the Columbia Community Festival. The selection criteria were creativity, suitability for a poster and relevance to the theme. The judges, in addition to Olugebefola, were Judith Burton, professor of art education; Sandy Kaufman, director of University Publications; András Szántó, director of the National Arts Journalism Program; Joan Snitzer, director of the Visual Arts Program at Barnard College; Rosa Naparstek, of Artist Unite; Marline A. Martin, executive director of The Children's Art Carnival; and Camille Giraud Akeju, president and CEO of Harlem School of the Arts.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, Columbia has invited its neighbors, students, faculty, staff and administration to the Columbia 250 Community Festival, a daylong celebration on Columbia's Morningside campus, Barnard College campus and in Morningside Park.

The artwork of all the finalists will be displayed on the day of the Community Festival and throughout the week following the event on Columbia's campus.

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Published: Sep 08, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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