Snite Museum of Art

Each academic year, the Snite Museum of Art, in conjunction with the University Writing Program and the First Year of Studies, celebrates the best essay by a first-year student on a topic related to a work of art in the museum’s collection. First, second, and third place winners will receive $150, $125, and $100 cash awards, respectively, and have their essays published in Fresh Writing, Volume 16

Writing Guidelines:

  • All submissions must be based in some way on a work of art in the collection of the Snite Museum of Art. The writing should reflect that students have spent significant time in the presence of and engaging with the original work of art.
  • The form the writing takes is the student’s choice (in other words, it doesn’t need to be an “essay” per se); possibilities include, but are not limited to
    • Critical considerations
    • Personal reflections
    • Contextual analyses
    • Aesthetic responses
    • Scientific explorations
  • Essays will be judged on
    • Interpretation and understanding of the work of art. Submissions should offer a coherent interpretation of the work of art based on observation and analysis. This interpretation need not be art historical, but aspects or details of the work of art should be used to support key written ideas.
    • Choice of style and form. The form the submission takes (which is not limited to those listed above) should reinforce the student’s interpretation. 
    • Overall structure, cohesion, and syntax.  The discussion of the work of art should be seamlessly integrated into the writing, keeping the work of art as the focus. Submission must be edited according to the formatting guidelines below.
  • All First Year of Studies students are encouraged to submit pieces of writing, regardless of whether their class visited the Snite as part of their course. Writing done for a course grade is welcome for submission.

Formatting Guidelines:

  • Submissions must adhere to a word limit of 1,000 words.
  • Submissions must be typed and double-spaced with numbered pages.
  • Accurate citations and credits must be included, if applicable. Please be consistent with a common style such as MLA, Chicago Style, or APA.
  • Submissions must include a cover page with the following information:

Student Name
Student Email Address
Faculty Advisor (if applicable)
Course for which piece was written (if applicable)
Date of Submission
Artist, Title, and Date of Work(s) of Art in the Snite Museum on which the essay is based

  • If the submission is associated with a class assignment, please include a brief description of that assignment.

Submissions can be emailed to Bridget Hoyt at, or printed submissions can be turned in at the front desk of the Snite Museum of Art anytime before Friday, March 4, 2016. Students who have written a piece for a fall semester class are encouraged to submit their entries at the end of the fall semester.

General questions about the process and accessibility questions should be directed to Bridget Hoyt, Curator of Education for Academic Programs, Snite Museum of Art, at or 631-4718.