By Kerry Simizon
Every year as December rolls around, so does the preparation for the Central New York Scholastic Art Show. Jamesville-DeWitt High School (J-DHS) has participated in this art show for decades. Despite some changes in the way the show is judged, for the most part, J-DHS has done very well, and continued that streak by bringing home 62 honors, from Gold Keys to Honorable Mentions, according to syracuse.com.
“The show, for the first time in its 50-plus year history, [had] everything judged through photographs,” said Carlos Benedict, one of the current drawing and painting teachers at J-DHS. “The National Scholastics wants things judged digitally and gave the local show three years to make the change.” This means that teachers must take pictures of their students’ artwork and submit it online. The art teachers believe this is causing a decline in the show’s value. Over the years there has been a change from the judges being professional artists to judges from the art guild.
“Preparation is very stressful. Many students stayed with me after school until 4:30 or 5 (p.m.) during the two weeks leading up to [winter] vacation,” said Benedict. The deadline for entries is right before winter break. “It’s very fun watching the work. I love it when the students respond to pressure by producing some beautiful pieces,” Benedict added.
Maddy VanHusen, a sophomore and winner from previous years, knows the stress of the preparation. “It can be very stressful depending on how much you have done. Sometimes you have to stay after until 5 o'clock to finish it on time. It's a relief when it's finished and you want to know how you did immediately,” said VanHusen. Like many of the winners, VanHusen has been involved in this competition since her middle school years. She’s been in the competition three times in the past and is now working on a piece for 2015.
Another factor in the competition that changed this year was the judging criteria. As always, work must be original or the artist may be disqualified. In addition to the encouragement to be creative, judges are now looking for works that surprise them, according to the Central New York Scholastic Art Committee. Emotional expression and blurring genres in the subject are things that would fit this new criteria.
Technique and skill are alway sought out when pieces are judged, however, this year they played a lesser role in judgement. According to the Scholastics Art Committee, “expressing an idea that is unique, powerful, and innovative and helps to highlight the artist’s vision [is likely to be rewarded].”
“All the pieces I sent were good, so [another] stressful part is seeing really good pieces get rejected,” Benedict explained. “Some of the rejected pieces are hanging in the halls and they are great pieces, but I’m used to the disappointment because that’s how the art world is.”
Junior Urmi Roy was awarded a gold key for her drawing in this year’s competition. This was her second time participating in the art show. She knew she had worked really hard and had confidence in her piece, but was surprised by her award. “I was anxious about it at first, and as the days went on I sort of forgot about,” said Roy, laughing a little. “And then a letter came in the mail one night and apparently I'd gotten a gold key.” The gold key was more than she had hoped for. She previously was awarded a silver key in eighth grade and was glad to see her hard work pay off. “I think [the Scholastic Art Show] is a great way for young artists to get recognition for their work,” said Roy.
Emily Maar, a sophomore at J-DHS, was very successful in the competition. She won a gold key, the Directors Award for Best Drawing, and the American Visions Nomination for submitting her drawing. “[My drawing] took me a really long time. It took half of last year and half of this year,” said Maar. She was excited about her piece, however, and explained that she never feels like she’s quite finished. She hopes to possibly end up in art school.
What happens after all the preparation and submissions? “Now we’re looking at (juniors) for portfolios, improving pieces, and making new ones [for next year’s Scholastic],” explained Carl Wenzel, a drawing and painting teacher at Jamesville-DeWitt high school. Wenzel also explained that now is the time to look at underclassmen for the next Scholastic Arts Competition and help prepare them for when December rolls around again.
For a complete list of winners go to www.syracuse.com and search 2014 CNY Scholastic Art Show Awards, or click on this link: http://www.syracuse.com/living/index.ssf/2014/01/2014_cny_scholastic_art_awards.html