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Scholastics, 2012

Awards showcase young regional talent

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader

2012-04-05


Each year, thousands of young artists and writers in our region submit original works to compete nationally for scholarships, awards, and bragging rights. The select few from our region are heralded locally and move on to compete at the national level, against students in metropolitan areas much larger, and known as traditionally more "cultured" than the Midwest. Every year, because of the work of these students, their brave and tireless teachers, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art staff, the Northeast Indiana/Northwest Ohio area brings back stunning results, with students being recognized in the top tier of young artists in America. This year, there is nothing different as a host of students move on to compete nationally, and dozens of students being awarded Silver and Gold Key awards, denoting their top place regionally.

Thankfully, our region has seen strong support for this programming, including a deep commitment on the part of the Museum's education staff to produce stunning results, and strong sponsorship from PNC Bank, The News-Sentinel, The Fort Wayne Art League, NIPR, and Tom Galliher Photography. Because of this, the annual Scholastic Art and Writing Awards seemed to be especially developed, producing work which make stronger contemporary and art historical references, as well as a much larger variety of genres represented. Especially when viewing the gold and silver key award winners, and the National Awards, it can be difficult to believe that these pieces were produced by teenagers, some of which have only a year of artistic training or interest. It is in this context that one realizes that Scholastics has existed since 1923, and has nurtured artistic genius like that of Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, and Truman Capote.

While this batch included many notable entries, there was clearly a group of young artists whose work spoke of their mature creativity, formal finesse, and the bravery to work with interesting and aggressive concepts. Certain trends, like the outstanding quality of Nicole Croy's students at Carroll High School, continue, and they can be seen in the works of Allison Resac, Manda Coupe, and Brandon Wilder. Resac's mixed media photograph "The Firing Line" is small, pensive piece depicting a young girl standing in front of a shooting range figure in a wooded area, the image overlapped by a cherry red bullseye. At first the image carries somewhat of a naive, angsty, run of the mill image. At second notice it carries a sophisticated editorial style, and is far more innovative in its subtlety. Then when this writer realized that Resac is only a Sophomore, her work became somewhat more notable, and will be remembered and looked for in future years.

In a less traditional photographic format, Manda Coupe's "Floating" is a combination of scanned cheesecloth printed onto a transparency, back lit in a wooden frame. The resulting image is a series of haunting, perturbing figures floating in a shallow but limitless space. Similarly alternative, and incredibly impacting, was the work of Brandon Wilder. His piece "Divorce is a Funny Thing" ended up being a photographic and sculptural installation including sound and slight projection through the use of shadow boxes. Justifiably winning an American Visions Award, and a National Silver Medal, Wilder's piece is an eight piece timeline explaining the relationship between his parents, including past images of them, as well as recordings of their arguments, all of which describe the complex emotional confusion felt by those impacted by a breaking relationship. The result is an instant draw into the piece, and a need to explore every aspect of it to stay in the unique emotional space that it creates.

This year also had a number of great three dimensional pieces, like Eric Perrine's "Our Photons pledge not to use artificial growth hormones", a chandelier like composition made of milk cartons, Esther Boller and Rachel Schreiner's forays into fashion, and the amazing "Electric Ukelele (An art form dying of democracy)", a wooden electric guitar, made of found scrap pieces, made by Levi Huffman of Northside High School. Huffman's piece was certainly the most technically proficient piece in the exhibition in its reconstruction of an instrument as well as an art piece. Perrine's piece was certainly the largest of the exhibition, and carried with it an elegant, almost eastern aesthetic, with the economy of form and line, and unexpected use of material. Boller's fashion pieces have been stealing the Scholastics exhibition for the last couple years, and this year was certainly no different being a wearable gown made out of masking tape, which was delicately placed to create an Zaha Hadid looking organic frill to the body.

Other great work included Eric Jones of Leo High School, whose grotesque sumi ink drawings like "The Teddy Massacre", which were a wonderful comic relief, Rachel Schreiner of Bryan's large mixed media heads like "Purpura", and Eli Crow, also of Leo's "Each Man, His Own Worst Enemy", a graphite and ink illustration of great detail and almost Rococo beauty. All in all, the 2012 Scholastics exhibition was one of mostly ups, with hundreds of pieces adorning the FWMoA walls and hallways, and so many national honors for our region.

So far in its century long practice of encouraging young talent, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have received over 13 million entries, and given over $25 million in awards and scholarships. Without this key source of income and inspiration, our nation would see a dull generation, lackluster in its expression. Without all of the hard work by our students, teachers, and sponsors, none of the students mentioned here would be making the kind of work they are, or have these forums in which to transmit it.

To find out more and catch the end of the 2012 Scholastics Art and Writing Awards exhibition, visit www.fwmoa.org.

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