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Northwestern art students earn top spot in competition

A metal sculpture created by Northwestern High School’s Abby Saarela earned a special nod from judges during statewide Visual Arts Classic competition April 7 in Madison. The Northwestern team earned first place at the event, defeating schools twice their size. (Submitted photo)

Northwestern High School art students earned first place at the statewide Visual Arts Classic competition April 7 in Madison. The students competed against schools twice the size of Northwestern, said art teacher Jeremiah Haynes, who coached the team with fellow art teacher Charlie Hessel.

The competition involves both individual work and team tasks, long-term projects that can take up to three months to produce and "on site" works that are built in two and a half hours.

"When the dust settled, Northwestern had the highest score of the field of nearly 50 schools, claiming their first ever state championship," Hessel said.

The teammates and their categories included Veronica Line and Devin Naumann in drawing, Grace Edwards in painting, Sami Keller in printmaking, Jay Gaare and Emily Gaare in ceramics, Jacob Evans and Abby Saarela in sculpture, Molly Niven and Marie Tenney in personal adornment, Justine Moss in video, and Lilli Kovaleski in digital photo.

Each was tasked with creating a long-term project in their category, following a prompt that involved "Art and Wisconsin."

For instance, the long-term drawing prompt was to draw an iconic location within your town or community, providing reference photos with the artwork. Folk art was the focus of the sculpture prompt. Saarela's entry, a blend of technical metal cutting and stained glass work, earned the junior a special nod from the judges.

"We were told by one of the judges that she has a future in sculpture if she wants to," Haynes said.

While at the competition, the students were provided with materials and an on-site prompt, a blank slate to create art. Their work included an ore boat, feathered duck, Native American headpiece and logging sculpture.

Northwestern students claimed 13 first place finishes, five second place, five third place and one honorable mention for their individual projects.

The group then teamed up for a critical thinking project — creating a 2-3 minute presentation with backdrops and props in 45 minutes, and a round of Art History Quiz Bowl.

"The list of artists is limited, but the scope of the 30 questions is not," Hessel said.

The students claimed second place in critical thinking and fourth in quiz bowl. Tallied up, their effort earned their team the top spot in the state.

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