Last December, Academy art students submitted their finest works to be reviewed by a panel of judges for the prestigious New Mexico Scholastic Art Awards. Over 130 pieces made by Albuquerque Academy students were granted Gold or Silver Keys or Honorable Mentions. 28 students were given Gold Keys, which allowed their pieces entrance into the national competition. Three talented Academy artists were awarded national medals for their outstanding artwork, joining the ranks of the most creative students in the country.

Izzy Jerome ’17, an AP Studio Drawing and Painting student, won two Gold Keys at the regional level for her paintings “Merritt B.” and “Mr. Lipkowitz.” Both of these paintings were recognized nationally, the former with a Gold Medal and the latter with an American Visions Medal, which is bestowed on the work of art deemed the most excellent from its region. These pieces are both products of Jerome’s AP concentration, for which she chose to depict people at or near windows. The paintings, both in oil, were completed in a way unique to Jerome: rather than the traditional technique of applying layers of paint over the entire painting in what is known as a value study, Jerome works in small areas that she completes prior to continuing. She spent an estimated 20 to 40 hours on each painting. Despite her national awards, Jerome strives to push herself to determine what her best work is. “It does feel good to be recognized and to have people congratulate you, but it’s not actually good enough for me…[U]ntil I get the personal sort of self-satisfaction of feeling like I accomplished what I set out to accomplish, it won’t really feel right,” Jerome said. Nevertheless, she is satisfied with her creations, and deems her painting “Mr. Lipkowitz” as one of her favorite pieces. Jerome’s passion for art will continue to be fostered in years to come, as she is planning on taking a photography class for her senior year and on attending art school after graduating.

Saili Lowry ’17 also won a Gold Medal, hers for a sculpture entitled “Adrenaline”. Her project began as a Sculpture III assignment in which she was to cast a part of her body and use it in a piece. Lowry chose to cast her back and, working off of an idea she had formulated the previous summer, crafted wings from PVC pipes to be attached to a red clay form that she molded using the cast. She then traced and cut out hundreds of paper feathers from her own childhood writings and doodles and attached them to the wings. She spent a significant amount of time on this project, most of it creating the feathers and determining the logistics of the piece itself, including how she would support the wings. Though Lowry was pleased with the piece, she did not expect it to be so well-received by the judges. “I can see why judges would like it, even if it’s not everyone’s favorite piece when you look at it in a room full of really great art, because the judging process…is you only look at [the submission] for a short amount of time and you’re either inspired by it or you’re not,” Lowry said. The impressive scale of her piece makes it visually appealing, and the use of her past scribbles as feathers gives the viewer a spiritual connection as well. Lowry will continue pursuing art next year by taking AP 3D Design as a senior.

“Brothers”, a photo by Elle Wolfley ’17, was the fourth nationally recognized piece. The Photo-Digital Design III student won a Silver Medal for a photograph that she took of her two young cousins, one of whom is wearing a gas mask. The black-and-white photo was shot with an antique large-format view camera and developed by Wolfley over the course of several class periods. Wolfley had several aims in creating this piece, including a wish to incorporate gas masks, a concept inspired by street artist Banksy, and to further her recent exploration into the meaning behind masculinity. “I…wanted to juxtapose the two boys’ youth with the kind of hardness of the gas mask,” Wolfley said. “I don’t know if it’s my favorite photo that I’ve ever taken, but definitely the response from other people has been that that’s the best one.” She was thrilled when she learned that she had received the award, especially because of the effort and artistry that she put into her photo to make it worthy of recognition. She also won two regional Gold Keys for other photos: “Izzy”, a black-and-white photo of a friend in an elevator, and “Tipton”, a digital shot of her brother playing on his smartphone. Wolfley will continue to create photos in AP 2D Design for her senior year.

These talented students are only a fraction of those who won recognition at the regional level, all of whom devoted many hours to their quest for artistic beauty and achievement. Every participant in the Scholastic Art Awards put forward their most prized pieces and deserves commendation for the light they bring to the Academy community. Jerome, Lowry, and Wolfley have all displayed an unusual aptitude for the arts, and seeing their work and others’ continue to develop in coming years will be a remarkable experience for people around our school, state, and country.

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