By Marcy Stamper
Young artists from the Methow Valley have never been so well represented at the state’s annual high school art show as this year, where five are honored with top prizes.
Liberty Bell High School students took first prize in drawing and photography and racked up three best-of-show awards in photography and video production in the 43rd-annual Superintendent’s High School Art Show, according to art teacher Robin Nelson Wicks.
The five winning artists in the state show were selected from 15 Methow students whose work is on exhibit at the regional art show in Wenatchee. Because every school in North Central Washington could enter one work of art for every five art students, this year’s high enrollment enabled Nelson Wicks to feature more students’ work. The judges’ selections of five winning pieces was an even bigger tribute.
Judges selected the top three pieces in the regional competitions in nine categories for the state show, including painting, drawing, sculpture and photography. The 12 works chosen as best of show will be judged in the competition in Olympia.
Nelson Wicks keeps tabs on all the work created throughout the year, with an eye on the strongest works to enter in the regional show. “These are pieces that float to the top — they’re exceptional examples of craftsmanship and technique,” she said.
“What I’m really proud of is that our kids are competing against kids from big schools for these statewide awards,” said Nelson Wicks.
This year, Nelson Wicks chose work by students from ninth through 12th grade in photography, printmaking, drawing, painting, mixed-media and video production.
Nelson Wicks pointed to striking work by sophomore Mia Stratman, who is doing an independent-study project focused on figure drawing, anatomy and proportion. She entered a charcoal drawing with intricate patterning in pen and ink. “It’s a nude — she looks like a tattooed woman, head to toe. It’s just great,” said Nelson Wicks.
Koharu Yonebayashi, a senior, and Mackenzie Woodworth, a sophomore, teamed up on a video. Aptly entitled “Pawn’dering Love,” the film uses stop-motion animation to show a battle of chess pieces set to a melodramatic soundtrack.
The other winning video entry is by senior Rowan Post, a story about overcoming fear as three friends launch themselves into Patterson Lake from a rope swing. Post wrote the script; cast the three actors; and edited and filmed the video, which use long shots, extreme close-ups and interesting angles.
Sophomore Jordyn Rodio got a first-place award for an eerie posed photo of her heavily made-up sister smoking a candy cigarette. “The piece is incredibly strong,” said Nelson Wicks.
“The photo took a little girl’s innocence and flipped it,” said Rodio. “It’s really interesting because it’s my little sister, but shown in a way I’ve never seen her before.” Her sister is only 8 years old, so the thick make-up and cigarette make it an upsetting image, said Rodio. Last year Rodio was recognized in the show for a grid of 12 photos of her mother cutting hair.
Other art on view in Wenatchee includes a painting by freshman Lillian Cooley of a stiletto shoe replete with glitter; a coffee cup with a pink lid by sophomore Natalie Treise; and a complex mixed-media work by sophomore Anna Post that includes photos, stitchery, and layered cut-outs.
Freshmen Jacqueline Larsen and Madeline Bosco worked with junior Erin Schuh on an abstract photo incorporating a corner of a room with strawberries on the wall, sculptural details and many layers that they assembled in Photoshop.
Freshman Peter Aspholm arranged images of Donald Trump into a three-dimensional box to create a satirical commentary.
The 15 pieces are on view — along with almost 200 other works from Okanogan, Chelan and Douglas counties — at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center through March. Winners will be exhibited at the Old Capitol Building in Olympia from April 4–June 2 and also online.
While students in the photography and video-production classes are learning photo and editing software, they are also combining technology with some of the oldest reproduction techniques. They are currently working on cyanotypes, direct contact prints with an indigo cast.
“These kids were raised digitally, but they’re totally into it. They slow down and enjoy every single step of the handmade process,” said Nelson Wicks.
1st: “To Feel This Beautiful” by Mia Stratman
1st: “Pawn’dering Love” by Koharu Yonebayashi and Mackenzie Woodworth
3rd: “The Swing” by Rowan Post
2nd: “No Hand Print” by Anna Post
1st: “The Fall Back on an Undecided Path” by Jordyn Rodio
Best of Show
“Pawn’dering Love” by Koharu Yonebayashi and Mackenzie Woodworth
“The Swing” by Rowan Post
“The Fall Back on an Undecided Path” by Jordyn Rodio
“To Feel This Beautiful” by Mia Stratman