*This post is part of a series of blog posts highlighting award winning contributors and supporters of Scribendi.

Nicole Taylor, a freshman environmental science major at the University of New Mexico, won this year’s Scribendi Editor’s Choice Award for art. Nicole’s piece, entitled Sea Serpent, is a porcelain sculpture of a sea serpent set on an open book.

During high school, Nicole said she took a lot of art classes, and that, “I get a lot of ideas from the Internet. I see images online, and I never think I’m going to use them right away, but later on I think about how interesting they are and decide to use those ideas.”

Nicole’s inspiration for Sea Serpent came from the book works of Brian Detmer and Guy Laramee, who create sculptures from books. Sea Serpent is made of porcelain, which is a challenging medium to work in, because porcelain is extremely delicate. “I wanted the serpent to come in and out of the table, to use that surface as a medium. But then, the tail kept falling over, and all the little tail spikes would break off, so I decided a book would be a good idea,” said Nicole. “The library was also really pushing to recycle discarded books, so I had a lot available to me.”

Sculpture pieces can take a notoriously long time to make, as there are many steps in the process, but Nicole finished Sea Serpent in only four weeks. “I actually really dragged my feet on this project,” she said. “It took me a long time to decide to place it on a book, but once I decided that, it was just a matter of firing the pieces, painting them with glaze and firing the piece again.”

When asked what other mediums of art Nicole is involved with, she said she is “really into dance now. That’s my creative outlet. I’ve done Irish step dance for a long time, so I’ve been getting back into dance.”

Nicole also said that the reason she likes sculpture so much is because “it represents movement so much easier than in drawing. Sculpture is three dimensional, and so movement can be more real.”

Nicole said that she is an environmental science major because global warming is the most important issue to her. However, Sea Serpent has nothing to do with the environment. “Sea Serpent doesn’t really have meaning to me,” she said. “There’s no message for me. It can mean whatever other people want it to mean, it just looks cool to me. A lot of people have asked if it means that ‘reading is an adventure’ or something. But honestly, I just wanted to make a dragon.”

Though Nicole may not have put a lot of personal meaning into Sea Serpent, it doesn’t mean others don’t find meaning in the piece. The City of Albuquerque bought Sea Serpent last May to be put on display in a local library.

“If anything,” said Nicole, “I wanted people to see that art doesn’t have to mean anything. It can just look cool. If it means something to you, that’s really great, but it doesn’t have to have meaning to be a good piece of art.”