Paintings and pottery won praise – and a cash purchase award – for young art talent in the New London School District.
Artwork by five students selected for the district’s collection was unveiled at a reception before the New London Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, May 28, at the district offices.
“This is a wonderful program,” said judge Ruth Rex, a former district art teacher.
The artists are Parker Anderson, sophomore, pottery; Ben Olsen, grade 6, monoprint weaving; Tyler Martens, grade 5, mixed media; Samantha Starcheske, grade 3, colored markers drawing; and Shelby Glodowski, grade 1, mixed media.
Their art was among nearly 20 pieces selected by art teachers throughout the district for consideration in the annual competition.
Rex offered brief comments about each artwork, drawing out the proud but sometimes reticent artists to talk about their use of color, technique and inspiration.
Glodowski painted a polar bear wearing a colorful hat and scarf made of painted paper. She used marshmallows to apply paint to create the illusion of texture in the bear’s fur.
The bear, Rex said, had personality.
Rex noted Martens’ skilled use of bold, contrasting color, both on the lizard and its leafy background in his piece, which combined drawing and painting on clear acetate with foil shining through from behind.
The placement of the lizard on a slight diagonal gives the impression it’s on the move, Rex said in her written critique.
She pointed out the detail in Starcheske’s tall, whimsical, multi-colored buildings, drawn from the viewpoint of someone looking up at the tops of the structures from the ground. Maybe this is the way the world will look someday, Rex said, giving the impression that would not be a bad thing.
Olsen blended subtle shades and symmetry in his monoprint weaving. His use of thin silver and gold stripes repeat to hold the piece together visually, Rex said on her critique of his work.
Anderson said his art assignment was to create a piece expressing a stereotype. He chose pottery itself as the stereotype, turning a large vessel on the wheel, then creating small vessels to attach to it in an asymmetrical design.
Rex commended Anderson’s earthy mix of glossy and matt glaze, and his glaze colors – a rich glossy green near the base of the vessel and, near the top, a shiny midnight blue. She noted that the top to the jar is wired in place, concealing the inside and adding mystery.
“It reminds me of an ancient treasure vase holding a secret,” she wrote on his critique.
The district’s acquisition of Anderson’s clay vessel was cause for envy among at least one person in the audience. After the reception, school board member Virginia Schlais said she loved pottery and would have been willing to pay him more than the $25 purchase award.
Each art teacher in the district submits student artwork for the annual contest. The judge selects two pieces from elementary students; two more from the middle/intermediate school; and one from the high school.
The art is professionally framed. It is displayed in the district office for a year, then returned to the artists’ schools.
“It’s such a nice honor,” Rex said. “It looks good in the schools. It makes the kids know that it doesn’t have to be only on the refrigerator.”
The art acquisition program began in 1990 and has built a collection of about 80 artworks, according to Kathy Gwidt, director of teaching and learning for the district.
Proud teachers and families, district administrators and school board members were on hand to celebrate with the young artists. There was applause, photos, a certificate and $25 cash award for each artist, and, after the brief program, an array of mostly healthy snacks from which the cookies vanished first.