Monday, May 19, 2014

Congratulations to our RISD CE Students at the NESCBWI Spring 2014 Conference!

This year’s NESCBWI spring conference was held in Springfield, MA, May 2014. The theme was “Create Bravely,” with a focus on having the courage to find your voice and make your mark. RISD CBI students are always well represented at the conference. This year, Anne Wert (class of 2013) and Marcela Staudenmeier and Sarita Rich (both in the class of 2014) enjoyed a productive weekend networking with fellow artists at the conference. Marcela is a conference veteran; this was her third year attending the NEWSCBWI conference. It was a first for Anne and Sarita.

Marcela, Anne, and Sarita got to hang out with inspiring speakers including Jane Yolen, Peter Reynolds, and Laurel Snyder. They received helpful critiques of their book dummies (created in Cheryl’s fall 2013 Book Dummy) from literary agents. And they each displayed portfolios of their best work from the CBI program in the Portfolio Showcase.  

Anne Perkins Wert and Marcela Staudenmaier
During conference weekend, all three RISD CE students demonstrated the theme of creating bravely. 

Marcela entered the “Pitchapalooza,” an event in which contestants’ names could be drawn for a chance to have one minute to pitch their book to a panel of judges featuring the Book Doctors and several literary agents. The author of the winning pitch received a free critique of their entire manuscript from an agent on the panel. Marcela’s name wasn’t drawn, but she had an amazing pitch ready to go!

Anne took advantage of a great portfolio building exercise and free promotional opportunity by entering a poster in the Illustration Challenge. The task was to illustrate a passage of choice from The Wizard of Oz. Her beautiful poster was displayed for art directors, editors, and conference participants to view. Anne was also named the runner up for this year’s Ann Barrow Illustrator Scholarship.

In her final semester of the CBI program, Sarita had a chaotic few months of preparation prior to the conference. From January to May, it was the first time for everything: making a website, drafting and printing promotional postcards and business cards, and printing reproductions of her work for a presentation portfolio. She submitted a portfolio for the Ann Barrow Illustrator Scholarship because she read about it on Marcela’s blog after Marcela won the award in 2012. This year, Sarita was pleased to accept the scholarship.

This image was a favorite of Ad's and Editors from Sarita Rich's   
Anne Barrow Scholarship award winning  portfolio

Another favorite of Ad's and Editors from Sarita Rich's   
Anne Barrow Scholarship award winning  portfolio

Two images from Anne Wert's "Anne Barrow Scholarship Award" runner up portfolio––the Candy shop was a favorite of Ad's and editors!

Sarita Rich and Marlo Gansworthy

Some of our RISD CE instructors also participated at the conference and Marlo Gansworthy’s artwork won the runner-up R.Michelson Galleries Award 2014. You can see Marlo’s artwork and read about her conference experience on her blog post.

In addition, Mary Jane Begin presented her workshop "Colors, Contrast + Compliments".

All around it was a successful conference for both our students and instructors! Next year’s conference will be during April 24-26 and the theme is “Think Outside Your Crayon Box.” Get to work and plan to register early so you don’t miss out on all the opportunities to get your name out there!

Anne Wert, Mary Jane Begin and Marcela Staudenmaier

Anne Perkins Wert and Meg Brewster Sodano

To see more of Marcela’s, Anne’s, and Sarita’s work, visit their websites:


  1. I'm so impressed by all of you!!! (A shout-out to Meg, too!) Can't wait to see Sarita and Marcela's portfolios before graduation, and loved your new painting, Anne.

  2. Yes, Cheryl––definitely a shout out to Meg and all other RISD CE alumi who were at the conference. Unfortunately, I was not there so I apologize for any incomplete information gathering or reporting on my part!