January 26, 2011

Visions of the Future

The Stockbridge Theatre lobby is filled from top to bottom with 1,391 works of student art, which will be on display through Feb. 5 as part of the Scholastic Art Awards of New Hampshire installment. 
Union Leader Correspondent

Detail of “The Truth is Not in the Mirror it’s Within Yourself”
 by Catherine Veilleux of Goffstown High School.
DERRY -- Think of the Scholastic Art Awards of New Hampshire as the Olympics of the local art world, a hand-to-hand competition where student artists put their interpretive skills to the mat for a brush with greatness as they go for the Gold Key Award.
This year, 1,391 works of art by students from around the state in grades 7 through 12 are on display inside the lobby of the Stockbridge Theatre on the Pinkerton Academy grounds in Derry, now through Feb. 5.
Program administrator Scott Chatfield, an art teacher at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, said the 88-year
 proud history of the competition continues today because it means everything to young artists who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to show their work — or earn scholarships for their efforts. 

Last year, for example, more than $1 million in scholarships and prizes was awarded through the Scholastic awards program, which has launched more than a few notable careers for past recipients, including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates and Sylvia Plath. 
Students in the national competition submit work in 20 visual art categories. Of the 1,391 New Hampshire entries, 708 earned individual awards, said Chatfield. Those who earned top honors, the 237 “Gold Key” winners, had their work submitted for the national competition, with the names of national finalists to be announced in March. 
The national awards ceremony is held in June at Carnegie Hall in New York City. 
“Last year 17 New Hampshire artists were recognized at nationals,” Chatfield said. “That’s impressive.” 
After 17 years of working to coordinate the annual statewide event, Chatfield said he sometimes wonders why he puts so much time and effort into the program. Then another year’s worth of entries rolls in. 
“When we start hanging the art, and I see the results year after year, it’s just such an incredible feeling to see these kids with this great talent be recognized for something that, for most of them, is life-changing,” Chatfield said. 
He said it is particularly moving in light of recently proposed state legislation, HB 39, which would effectively remove the arts, among other disciplines, from the required core classes that make up the current definition of adequate education at the state level. 
“That is appalling to me, that this kind of thing is taking place, especially when we have this amazing program that really showcases what’s great about school art programs,” Chatfield said. 
“You know some of those kids aren’t going to be artists, but they will have art in their lives no matter what. That’s the important thing to get across to people, that you can enjoy and appreciate the arts around you,” Chatfield said. “It simply brings joy to your life.” 
Students with exhibited work will be recognized during two ceremonies on Feb. 5 in the Stockbridge Theatre, one at 11 a.m. for the lower grades and one at noon for older students. All students will receive certificates and Silver and Gold Key recipients will receive a key pin for their achievement. 
The New Hampshire Art Educators’ Association annual $1,000 scholarship is being awarded this year to Brianna Seidel of Goffstown High School. 
A $500 scholarship provided by Coca-Cola of Northern New England will be awarded to Haley Cummings of Pelham High School. 
The event is sponsored by host Pinkerton Academy, the New Hampshire Institute of Art, the Brown-Monson Foundation, the New Hampshire Art Educators’ Association, the Currier Museum of Art, Coca-Cola of Northern New England, and John and Sheila Hoglund. 

On the Web: www.artandwriting.org 

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