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Tigers earn trip to state art competition

Art students from Northwestern High School moved on to state competition following the regional Visual Arts Classic meet Feb. 22. Sixteen of their 18 projects took first-place honors and the team of nine won both the critical thinking and quiz bo...

Northwestern High School students, front from left: Isabella Magerl, Lily Cain, and Kylie Olson; back: Kieran Johnson, Sami Keller, Hope Nordrum and Ashley Olson, hold up the impromptu art pieces they made during the regional Visual Art Classic competition. (Maria Lockwood / mlockwood@superiortelegram.com)
Northwestern High School students, front from left: Isabella Magerl, Lily Cain, and Kylie Olson; back: Kieran Johnson, Sami Keller, Hope Nordrum and Ashley Olson, hold up the impromptu art pieces they made during the regional Visual Art Classic competition. (Maria Lockwood / mlockwood@superiortelegram.com)

Art students from Northwestern High School moved on to state competition following the regional Visual Arts Classic meet Feb. 22. Sixteen of their 18 projects took first-place honors and the team of nine won both the critical thinking and quiz bowl challenges.

The Wisconsin-based high school art competition includes both a long-term project students bring with and an impromptu piece they create on the spot based on this year's theme, "Back to Basics."

"They give you the prompt and you have two and a half hours to do it," said art teacher Charlie Hessel, one of two team coaches.

Their on-site work included yarn art, soap carving, papier mache and finger painting.

The teens also have to learn about a list of famous artists, then answer questions about them during the quiz bowl competition.

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"Each student is assigned an artist and they become an expert in them," Hessel said.

For last year's science fiction theme, for example, senior Hope Nordrum was tasked with learning all she could about "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry. This year's list included Grandma Moses, Shoji Hamada, Henri Matisse, Yasujiro Ozu, Esther Bubley and Huichol art.

The divide-and-conquer strategy has worked well for the Tigers. Out of 30 questions at regional competition, they got 18 right. Their closest competitor was Ashland High School with eight correct answers.

The critical thinking piece of the competition wasn't revealed until the day of the event, either. It involved creating a promo for a parody television show which incorporated this year's artist list. The Northwestern team built a script for a "Family Feud" episode in which their artists faced off. Other teams penned promos for shows like "The Office," "Jeopardy" and "Law & Order: SUV."

Students said the art competition helps boost their confidence, teamwork and time-management skills. And it encourages them to create.

"You can get new ideas from other people and you can also get other people's input on your own work," junior Sami Keller said.

There are a dozen different art forms students can work in, from drawing and ceramics to fiber art and video.

"You can find somewhere you fit in," Nordrum said.

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Most of the students are involved in a host of other activities at school, like volleyball, forensics, musical and more. They make time for the art competition, however.

"It helps me prepare for college with all that studying and time management," senior Ashley Olson said. "I'm pretty sure all of us struggle with time management."

It also looks good on a resume or college application, she said.

"It's like a huge confidence boost," Nordrum said. "You've got the whole team supporting you, you're making beautiful pieces, we're working so well together in our group activities. I think that's why it's so fun."

Art isn't traditionally a competitive thing, Hessel said. VAC puts that spin on it.

"I think it's just really neat for them to go see what other kids are doing," he said. "Now they're actually going and working with other students in the classrooms and other people are judging their work."

Getting feedback from professional artists and different points of view is important, he said.

The team will move on to the April 12 state meet.

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Northwestern High School students, front from left: Isabella Magerl, Lily Cain, and Kylie Olson; back: Kieran Johnson, Sami Keller, Hope Nordrum and Ashley Olson, hold up the art pieces they finished ahead of time for the regional Visual Art Classic competition Friday, March 1, at the high school. (Maria Lockwood / mlockwood@superiortelegram.com)
Northwestern High School students, front from left: Isabella Magerl, Lily Cain, and Kylie Olson; back: Kieran Johnson, Sami Keller, Hope Nordrum and Ashley Olson, hold up the art pieces they finished ahead of time for the regional Visual Art Classic competition Friday, March 1, at the high school. (Maria Lockwood / mlockwood@superiortelegram.com)

Related Topics: DOUGLAS COUNTYART
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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