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Sugar House Journal

On your mark, get set, create! Granite School District hosts Art Olympics in January

Mar 06, 2019 10h58 ● By Justin Adams

Cottonwood sophomore Maren Sumpter won in the Black and White and the Overall 2D category for her rendition of the Joker.

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

High school art students created beautiful works under pressure on Jan. 24 at the Granite School District Art Olympics. Awards were given for overall winners in several categories, with students winning medals, cash awards and scholarships. 

“I left school around third period and went to the district office. We heard from two guest speakers, a Disney animator and gallery owner. After that we were dismissed for the competition. They said, ‘Go!’ and we started,” said Amanda Kelly of Kearns High. 

Kelly made a 16" x 12" sculpture of her cat. Artists got four hours to work, then 30 minutes for cleanup. Judging was done immediately afterward by local artists, including Al Rounds and Nick Pinnock. 

“I’m a senior and started doing sculpture my junior year. My uncle is a sculptor, so he has encouraged me. And my art teacher Mr. Zellinski helped me a lot,” Kelly said. 

The work paid off. Kelly won two medals (Overall 3D Winner and Sculpture), $125 in cash and a $500 scholarship. Chad Zellinski is Amanda’s AP studio art teacher at Kearns High. 

Jennifer Rojas, also of Kearns High, won in the category of Color Drawing. Her teacher K.R. Osterberg said, “Jennifer is a very creative young lady. Her artistic vision is uniquely her own. Art makes her happy and she uses it to express and experience joy!”

Art teacher Jeremy Petersen of Olympus High School is thrilled the Art Olympics program is back. “It is the only event of its kind in the state.  A few years ago the Granite Education Foundation decided to drop the program for what they considered a lack of interest and funding, but my fellow art teachers in the district and I helped bring it back,” said Petersen. 

“Our art students train like athletes, and rarely get the opportunity to be recognized at that level. The evening is a confidence-building experience. Many students have visited me years after they graduated to share how much it meant for them to participate,” said Petersen. 

Olympus High had three winners: Jasmine Malouf, life drawing; Martha Moffat, watercolor; and Makenna Ames, ceramics. 

Malouf thrived on the speed and stress of the competition. “I just went with it. I brought my friend Audrey as my model and drew with acrylic paint. I was nervous at first, but as the competition went on I gained confidence and had fun with it. My teacher Mr. Petersen believed in me,” said Malouf. 

Ames carefully planned her piece for two months. “I made a geometric teapot and it was stressful. People were walking around looking at me and I felt like an animal at the zoo. But the judges were great and made helpful suggestions. I’m still working on my teapot and will fire it soon,” said Ames. 

Ceramics artists could choose to use a pottery wheel or hand building, which is what Ames chose. Her teacher is Julie Mangum. 

Maren Sumpter, sophomore at Cottonwood High, won the Black and White Drawing and Overall 2D category. “I drew an adaptation of the Joker character. Honestly, (the time limit) wasn’t that bad. The judges were complimenting me, which was really nice,” said Sumpter.

Sumpter’s classmate Maggie Driggs won in the Opaque Painting category. “I used oil paint and used pictures of my neighbor Megan as a subject,” said Driggs. 

The time constraint was a challenge, but also helpful. “It encouraged me to work faster and smarter. I had to plan everything out and make sure I did it right the first time. It was really satisfying to say, ‘I did this in four hours,’” Driggs said.  

Other winners were Jaren Kamakana and Gabriel Sherman of Cyprus, Jersson Gomez of Taylorsville, Miranda Obic and Sheena Valdez of Hunter.

“We appreciate the support of those in our community that donate funds to the Granite Education Foundation. They are in great need of more support to be able to continue this program in the future,” said Petersen. 

“It is without a doubt the most thrilling night of the year for art teachers. I can only compare the excitement to that of a championship football game, but for artists,” said Petersen.