‘Conceptionally strong, emotionally charged’

CF art professor Tyrus Clutter presents a Best of Show certificate to Grace White for her digital collage “But You Don’t Look Sick.” [Courtesy of College of Central Florida]

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted April 8, 2023 |

Recognized for a boldly conveyed and uniquely designed digital collage, Grace White won Best of Show in the 2023 College of Central Florida’s student art exhibition last week. 

Professor Tyrus Clutter presented the digital media major with the award during a ceremony held in conjunction with the annual art show on Wednesday, March 29. The exhibition will be on view until Thursday, May 4, at the CF Webber Gallery located on the CF Ocala Campus at 3001 SW College Road, Ocala. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

White and her peers in CF’s digital media program joined students of other art mediums in submitting imaginative, conceptual and contemporary works in the juried competition.

In “But You Don’t Look Sick,” White, 20, boldly expresses her frustrations with society’s perceptions around what she describes as invisible health challenges.

“I myself have invisible illnesses, chronic illnesses and disabilities,” she shared. “So, for me, it’s more about the learned experience of living with invisible illnesses and how I feel about people not necessarily knowing all the time that you are sick.” 

White explained that she was diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, also known as POTS, conditions that prevented her from continuing her training as a dancer and studying more traditional art forms. 

Digital media became appealing to her around two years ago because she would draw on her iPad while resting. 

Grace White won Best of Show for “But You Don’t Look Sick,” a digital collage. [Courtesy of College of Central Florida]

“I also have endometriosis and mass-cell activation syndrome, or MCAS,” White elaborated. “All of these are invisible conditions that you don’t necessarily see. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a genetic condition, so it affects my connective tissues and causes me to sublux, or dislocate, joints. POTS affects my autonomic nervous system, so I get a lot of blood pooling in my feet. My blood doesn’t circulate properly, and it causes me to have a really high heart rate. My heart rate can go from anywhere from 150 to over 200 just from standing.”

Detail of “But You Don’t Look Sick” by Grace White. The digital collage won Best of Show in the CF Student Art Exhibition. [Julie Garisto]

Because White is relatively physically fit and projects what she describes as a “Type A” personality, some doctors and acquaintances have dismissed her concerns and regarded her with skepticism. So, to cope with her frustration and educate others, she has crafted imagery that conjures doctor visits and hospital stays with digital photos of hospital bracelets, symptoms and other medical ephemera. 

“I wanted to show that just because something’s pretty on the outside or looks fine, it’s not always fine on the inside,” White affirmed. “And that’s what I also tried to emulate with the background with the different texts and stuff like that. The ripped papers include my diagnoses, my symptoms and paperwork from different doctors’ appointments to show the visible behind the invisible.” 

White stitched the title, “But You Don’t Look Sick,” in a folksy manner with a sassy, sarcastic twist as she does with the embroidered “Not Visible ≠ Not Here.” A tulip bouquet stands as a symbol of traditional, demure feminine beauty, contrasting the photos of her torso; her pain-trigger points are less delicately marked with a thick, blood-red marker.

Despite the challenges she has endured, White maintains perspective. The third-generation Ocala resident said she has been fortunate to receive support from important people in her life and expresses gratitude to her parents and mentors. 

University of Central Florida professor and professional visual artist Nicholas Kalemba judged the competition. He chose the placement awards of Best of Show, First-Third Place and Honorable Mentions. 

In a judge’s statement, he describes White’s work as “conceptually strong, emotionally charged and poignant as well as formally proficient in its composition, color choices and use of collage.” 

“It was a difficult task to decide between the top four pieces due to their proficiency with materials, concept, mood, execution and presentation,” he added. “I look forward to the exhibiting artists’ continued development of their artistic journey.”

CF will present a talk with Kalemba from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12. The artist/educator will talk about his process and the Visual Arts Program at UCF, where he teaches. 

Also of note, CF President James Henningsen chose the purchase awards and the three Student Choice Award Finalists. Purchase awards works will be added to the CF Permanent Art Collection. 

CF students will vote on a favorite student finalist through April 27, determining which one of the three works nominated will be selected for another purchase award. That student’s work will be purchased and added to CF’s permanent collection. The winner will be announced during the first week of May on the CF Webber Gallery Facebook and Instagram pages.

For more information about the College of Central Florida’s gallery and arts programs, visit cf.edu.

Check out Grace White’s Etsy store at etsy.com/shop/OleanderandHemlock.


“Path of Jewels” by Sara A. Velazquez Pillot, Gouache on paper. Won student art show purchase award. [Julie Garisto]

“Untitled Film Still #35” by Megan Ryan, Acrylic paint and photograph. Won second place in the CF Student Art Exhibition. [Julie Garisto]

2023 CF Student Art Exhibition
Award Winners:

Best of Show
“But You Don’t Look Sick” by Grace White

First Place
“In Simple Form” by Alexia Sibul

Second Place
“Untitled Still Film #35” by Megan Ryan

Third Place
“Lurk” by Aleigha Shepherd

Honorable Mention
“Spicy” by Isabel Aquino

Honorable Mention
“Left on Read” by Kristina Brightshue

Honorable Mention
“Illuminator of the Night Sky” by Austin Roberts

Honorable Mention
“Ginko” by Deborah Mackes

Honorable Mention
“You Petty Human – 2” by Deborah Mackes

Honorable Mention
“Happy Lunar New Years” by Alexia Sibul

Honorable Mention
“Military Grade” by Conor Keating

Honorable Mention
“The Motus” by Ethan Bunch

Purchase Award
“Lurk” by Aleigha Shepherd

Purchase Award
“Path of Jewels” by Sara A. Velasquez Pillot

Student Choice Award Finalist
“Gaia” by Austin Roberts

Student Choice Award Finalist
“You Petty Human 3” by Deborah Mackes

Student Choice Award Finalist
“Cucina” by Isabel Aquino

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