Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson

Anna Kent of Shreveport is winner of the 2023 Mazda STEAM Art Car competition at Northwestern State University.  In addition to winning a $500 scholarship from the School of Creative and Performing Arts, her design, “Fired Up,” will be featured on a Mazda RX-8 with paint work currently underway.  

“My design theme is centered around color and its ability to accentuate the shape of the vehicle,” Kent said. “I was inspired by the vibrancy of a flame, so I chose to incorporate warm colors into the car’s design.  Red, yellow and various shades of orange create a seamless transition between colors and a gradient to emphasize the car’s shape.  As the car drives by, the colors will seem to blend further and create a stunning flamelike look.”  

Kent is majoring in fine and graphic arts with a concentration in studio arts and a minor in psychology.  

Runners up were Nelson Tamez of DeRidder, second place for “Bubble River;” Adrienne Boyd of Lena, third place for “Untitled,” and Nicholas Stelly of Geismar, honorable mention for “Blurb.”  Boyd is majoring in fine and graphic art. Tamez is a fine and graphic art major with a concentration in graphic communications. Stelly is majoring in fine and graphic art with a concentration in studio arts.  

The vehicle will appear at the Defenders of Liberty Air Show at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City March 25-26.  

Each year, Professor of Art Collier Hyams challenges art students in Design 1010 with creating a series of designs for the Mazda based on specific themes.  Each student came up with five concepts based on design prompts and a freestyle category.  

Mike Zagami, program director with the Mazda Foundation, judged the competition, which incorporates art into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) concepts.  

Students began the project by creating flat drawings, then paper maquettes and 3-D models, which were painting with their proposed designs.  

“We start the semester very hands-on with an instinctual ink and paint on paper approach, Hyams said. “We then begin research and discussion on the Art Car Series founded by Hervé Poulin in 1975 with the Alexander Calder BWM 3.0 CSL, followed by the works of Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and the complete series.” 

For this Mazda RX-8, students took inspiration from the Japanese phrase “jinbai ittai,” which loosely translates to “horse and rider,” as a theme with a focus on color.  

“With this context in mind, the students each began creating five original designs,” Hyams said. “From the 125 or so resulting images, a winner was chosen.”  

Hyams, who teaches digital art and multimedia, has worked with Mazda for several years to promote student work and provide a visible platform for student design.  In previous years the vehicle has been prominently displayed on campus and in the city of Natchitoches.  

Last fall’s winning design was by Bess DeFord of Natchitoches, based on “kodo,” which means “soul of motion.” 

Information on NSU’s Department of Fine and Graphic Art is available at  


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