Art Pro­fessor Sam Knecht speaks with senior art student Grace DeSandro. Kaylee McGhee | Col­legian

Pro­fessor of Art Sam Knecht will receive a sig­nature status award from the Por­trait Society of America on April 22, adding another achievement to his land­scape of accom­plish­ments.

The Por­trait Society of America, an inter­na­tional orga­ni­zation ded­i­cated to fos­tering and enhancing an under­standing of the practice, tech­niques and appli­ca­tions of tra­di­tional fine art por­traiture and fig­u­rative works, awards five renowned artists with a sig­nature status award each year.

“It’s a pro­fes­sional status kind of thing,” Pro­fessor of Art Barbara Bushey said. “This is a recog­nition of Pro­fessor Knecht’s accom­plish­ments.”

Knecht’s artistic talent and prominent teaching career made him an easy choice. Knecht recently retired from his full-time teaching position in Hillsdale’s art department, after 38 years of expertise. He has taught more than 1,500 stu­dents, and 18 dif­ferent classes during his time at Hillsdale. Knecht has also earned awards from the of Por­trait Society of America, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the Michigan Water­Color Society.

Junior Madeline Richards, who has studied under Knecht for the past two years, said there is no one more deserving of this award. Knecht is a fan­tastic painter, and has shared his love of art with his peers and stu­dents, Richards said.

“I have learned that art is not only a way to com­mu­nicate with others, but it is a passion for dis­covery,” Richards said in a Facebook message. “Noticing the small details of the world and how they can be applied to the fine arts. Pro­fessor Knecht has not only helped to increase my skill immensely, but has taught me how to notice this beau­tiful cre­ation of God that we live in.”

According to Knecht, the Por­trait Society of America looks for two things when choosing whom to award: quality art con­firming the artist’s rep­u­tation and con­tri­bu­tions to teaching in the tra­dition of rep­re­sen­ta­tional painting.

“You have to have achieved some level of national fame, and you must be actively involved in edu­cation,” Bushey said.

Knecht applied for the award in August 2016, and found out he would receive the dis­tin­guished award in December. A panel of four artists acts as the National Por­trait Society’s jury, sifting through appli­ca­tions from extra­or­dinary artists from across the nation.

This sig­nature status will allow Knecht to use a new acronym — PSS — by his sig­nature on all new pieces of artwork. Knecht views the award as a recog­nition of his lifetime achieve­ments, which he said is an incredible honor.

“It’s an honor. A flat out honor,” Knecht said. “Espe­cially to be rec­og­nized by peers and artists I deeply respect.”

Bushey said this award reflects very well on Hillsdale’s art department and shows the level of depth in skill and excel­lence the program is com­mitted to.

“We have a level of expec­tation of stu­dents. Any time we have an external body saying ‘Yes, these people are good at what they do,’ it’s a very good thing for us,” Bushey said.

Knecht said the award shows that even while teaching, pro­fes­sional goals can be achieved.

“With enough talent and effort, you can earn that recog­nition,” he said.