CU student wins art exhibition

Artistic prowess: Zaeed Kala’s oil painting, “Guardians of Olympus,” won first place in the 29th Visual Art Alliance’s Juried Exhibition in Houston.

Matt Thompson

Newswriting Student 

Zaeed Kala, a 23-year-old Senior majoring in Painting at CU, has gained recognition for his artistic ability outside of the CU Art Department.

Over the last year, Kala’s work has been accepted into five professional art exhibitions. One of his oil paintings won the first place prize of $1,000 in the “29th Visual Art Alliance’s Juried Exhibition” in Houston.

Kala said he began entering nearby art shows to fulfill the requirements for his senior portfolio, but after his success in the first few show, he now enters his work into any professional exhibition he can.

“The first show I entered was the ‘Oklahoma Friendly’ art show in Oklahoma City,” he said. “Being accepted into the first show that I ever entered really boosted my self-confidence as an artist.”

The second show he entered was the VAA show in Houston.

According to Kala, the VAA show had over 700 applicants and winning a show like that was a motivation for him to try even harder to enter his work into more shows.

The third show he was accepted into was “The National Oil and Acrylic Painter’s Society Exhibition” in Missouri.

The fourth show to accept Kala’s painting was a professional art show at the Leslie Powell Gallery in Lawton.

The fifth show Kala was accepted in was by invitation. After winning first place in the VAA exhibition, Wade Wilson, the juror of that competition, invited Kala to an exhibition at his own gallery in New Mexico.

According to Kala, having his work in invitational shows is an honor because he was invited personally. He did not have to apply and wait for a response.

Kala’s award winning piece was an oil painting called “Guardians of Olympus”.

“I painted my award-winning piece last fall in my first advanced painting class,” Kala said. “It was kind of an experiment.”

The piece ‘Guardians of Olympus’ is centered on Greek mythology, but features a theme of ethnic diversity.

“The juror told me he liked my piece because of the racial diversity of the figures,” Kala said.

He has received three offers of over $2,000 from people who were interested in purchasing his prize-winning piece. He, however, has not accepted any offer in hopes to enter his piece into more art competitions.

“I have received a few offers on my painting” Kala said, “but I am going keep it for a while, and try to enter it into more shows. Award-winning pieces have a better chance of winning other competitions.”

Although Kala has been accepted into five shows, he has also received rejection letters. His work was rejected by two exhibitions – in New York City and Santa Fe.

He said that rejections are a part of the process of becoming a professional artist. He also said that he refuses to let that rejections discourage him from trying to enter future shows.

Kala said he hopes that he can be an example to younger students.

“I started entering shows as a senior,” Kala said. “I would like to encourage younger students to start entering shows earlier than I did. If I would have known how easy it is I would have started a lot earlier.”

According to Associate Professor Monika Linehan – Kala’s advanced painting professor, “Zaeed’s success has been a great inspiration to other students. It has encouraged them to at least consider entering professional art exhibitions.”


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