Cassidy Argo ’21, a Fine Arts major, is a finalist in the 2020 AXA Art Prize Exhibition.

Argo’s work was selected from among more than 400 submissions from 125 schools, both undergraduate and graduate programs. Works from the 40 student artist finalists will be exhibited virtually and in person in New York City at the New York Academy of Art in September.

“I am beyond excited to be selected for this show,” Argo said. “As a figurative painter, the fact that I was accepted into an exhibition dedicated to figurative art makes me feel so incredibly happy and proud.”

The AXA Art Prize launched in 2017 and is viewed as one of the premier student art competitions in the United States. The prize is open to figurative paintings, drawings and prints made by undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in courses in the U.S. Winners of the $10,000 first prize and $5,000 second prize will be announced November 17.

“The AXA Art Prize provides aspiring artists with an opportunity to showcase their talents, share their passions and connect with influential members and established leaders in the art industry,” said Jennifer Schipf, global practice leader for Art at AXA XL. “Now more than ever, it is imperative we help these individuals build diverse networks and support these young artists as they pursue their passions in the art industry.”

The painting Argo submitted, Oranges, features a fellow student—a young woman in a red jacket, seated on a chair next to a window, dangling a plastic bag full of oranges that has broken, fruit spilling onto the floor.

“I applied during such a hectic time, just when we switched to online classes,” she said. “When I sent in my materials I wasn't even expecting much out of it, I just had to move on to the next thing.”


Argo said she likes to set up questionable narratives through the use of the figure and its surroundings.

“Lately I've been making very eerie art, combining feelings of fear and love of the paranormal with my childhood memories,” she said. “I create work that unsettles but also delights through the use of humor and nostalgia.”

The pandemic caused her to leave Moore in March and go back home to Rhode Island.

“I managed to make it work and I’m very happy about that,” she said. “I feel so lucky to have had a good space to work while finishing all my finals for my junior year and drew a lot of inspiration from being back in the home I grew up in.”

However, she has concerns about the coronavirus—both parents are in the health care field and have continued to work.

“My mom is a nurse and my dad is an intake coordinator at a psychiatric hospital,” she said. “It’s pretty nerve-wracking, but I’m also very proud of them.”


Argo is focusing on oil painting in her studies at Moore. She also serves as a resident assistant, and she sells earrings that she makes.

“I've always loved making art, but it was when I was in high school that I started to really improve my art skills and I realized that I could actually accomplish something really cool when I set my mind to it,” she said. “I discovered that I'm happiest when I'm working on a painting or project that I’m passionate about.”

She felt during a tour of Moore that she would be happy and comfortable on campus.

“What’s most special to me about Moore is the community that grows inside of it,” she said. “I feel very at home at Moore and am so grateful to have met so many creative and like-minded people, and to have formed such amazing friendships.”

A 2020 recipient of the Penny Fox Internship Fellowship, Argo is completing her required summer internship remotely with Dieu Donné, a paper-making gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

See artwork from all of the finalists here.