Art Achievements for the Future


Scholastic Art Award winners’ pieces on display in the Fine Arts Wing at Wayzata High School. Photo by Elisabeth Oster.

Elisabeth Oster, Web Editor

  Wayzata High School students were awarded 20 gold keys, 16 silver keys, and 40 honorable mentions through the Scholastic Art Awards for recognition of achievement in mediums of art and design this past month.
  “For nearly a century, the Scholastic Awards have recognized the vision, ingenuity, and talent of our nation’s youth, and provided opportunities for creative teens to be celebrated,” Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Executive Director Virginia McEnerney said.
  Maurice R. Robinson, founder of Scholastic Inc., founded the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in 1923 with the purpose, “to give those high school students who demonstrate superior talent and achievement in things of the spirit and of the mind at least a fraction of the honors and rewards accorded to their athletic classmates for demonstrating their bodily skills.”
  According to McEnerney, submissions are judged first at the regional level while those that are considered Gold Key works are reexamined at the national level by National Jurors who have skill and expertise in the art field. This position has been held by large names in the literary and visual art world such as, Robert Frost, Judy Blume, and David Sedaris.
  “Since the outset of the Awards, work has been blindly adjudicated based on three core values: originality, technical skill, and the emergence of personal voice or vision,” said McEnerney.
  According to the Wayzata High School website, high school Seniors who receive a national medal have access to over $800 million in the form of scholarships.
  “Students’ work illustrates their world view in a way that is delightful and informative to others,” said McEnerney. “It shows people the perspective of the world through teens’ eyes, and it makes people feel very hopeful about the future of the arts.”

  “I was excited to see everyone at the award ceremony, that was the fun part! However, I was really nervous about walking up to the front of the room,” said Natalia Poteryakhin (11). “Then, I was completely shocked when I got a scholarship from MCAD for their summer program. I had no idea that would happen, I still can’t believe it.”
  Poteryakhin received both a gold key for a comic piece and a gold key for digital art. Her comic piece revolved around the idea that talent is a deceiving gift and can be a burden as a label on an individual.
  “My digital piece was a piece for my portfolio that I made last year. It’s a play on words, as the title is ‘Idea Vomit,’ in regards to the process of brainstorming, but I drew myself straight up vomiting a bunch of mythical creatures and silly things,” said Poteryakhin.
  “Kids are braver now about exploring topics that might have been off-limits in the past, like gender and sexuality and cultural differences, but they are also still engaged with exploring and depicting issues that they are contemplating as they develop their character and identity, like family, community, nature, friendship, love, and death,” said McEnerney.
  Lauren Leaseburg (11) was recognized with a Silver Key for achievement in sculpture with her piece that incorporated flowers and boxes into her 3D design.
  “In regards to my paper sculpture, the medium is different than other forms of art because not many people think of making a sculpture out of paper and glue,” said Leaseburg. “It’s probably nowhere close to the top of the list that pops up in people’s heads when they hear the word art either. Its unique and uncommon and that’s what makes it different.”
  “Each year, increasing numbers of teens participate in the program, and become a part of our community—young artists and writers, filmmakers and photographers, poets and sculptors, video game artists and science fiction writers, along with countless educators who support and encourage the creative process,” said McEnerney.
  “I had a different process for each of the three pieces that won awards. However, I thought about important ideas such as culture to embrace in my pieces,” said Jasmine Brewer (11).
  Brewer received a Gold Key for design and two silver keys for both animation and design. Graphic design appeals to her as an artist to create something new that can easily be edited and fixed.
  “Art and writing are great hobbies to help kids process the information in the world around them, to develop concentration and skills, and to experience their high-school years with a heightened sense of purpose, adventure and productivity,” said McEnerney.
  For Poteryakhin, her art is the center of her life inside and out of school. She finds inspiration for her drawings from interesting people and trees which she feels to be complexly unique.
  “I spend most of my days on art, whether I’m drawing at school or at my mentorship in Minneapolis. I get to exaggerate life, make jokes, show emotion, anything,” said Poteryakhin.
  The awards also motivates students to not only perfect mediums they commonly work with but also try out new mediums.
  “Currently I’m learning how to animate. It’s unlike anything else, because it requires me to understand motion, timing, composition with movement in mind,” said Poteryakhin. “But it’s been so much more rewarding than just illustration because it is the art of making pictures move. It’s magic.”
  Although reasons to pursue art is different for everyone, both McEnerney and Leaseburg agree that art is a source of expression at its core.
  “For me personally art is a source of beauty, provocation, information, truth-telling, and exploration. It’s a pure celebration of life and invention, and a source of comfort and wonder. It’s an outlet for fury and a way to explore ideas and technologies,” said McEnerney.
  “Art is inspiring and freeing and because there aren’t rules, I’m able to really experiment and express myself,” said Leaseburg. “Art itself has also introduced me to really cool people and has given me great opportunities not only now but for the future.”