When Sophia Rennert got the word, she shed tears of joy.
The Snohomish High School senior won a Gold Medal in the national Scholastic Art Awards for her black-and-white photo, “Eggs.”
“I was so proud,” Rennert said. “So, you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I received the national medal. I was especially honored when I saw the incredible talent of the other participants.”
Each year, Snohomish County teachers submit their students’ artwork to the Schack Art Center in Everett for the Scholastic Art Awards. This year, Schack received more than 780 entries. Eighteen judges narrowed those down to the 62 best.
“Only about a third of the students get an award,” said Nancy Bell, Schack’s education director. “Their quality of work is always so high, so to even get an honorable mention is a big honor.”
Only eight gold medals are awarded nationally, and only a small number of silver medals. Of the 62 submissions by the Schack, three winners are from Snohomish County: Rennert, Angie Kim of Kamiak High School and Tessa Flemming of Edmonds-Woodway High School.
Kim, a senior at Kamiak, said she felt “uncomfortably flattered” at winning a Silver Medal.
“I was relieved that I was rewarded for my experimentation,” she said. “Lots of students in my art class and school received awards, so I saw their art while they were working on it. They are very talented.”
Rennert’s “Eggs,” which also was awarded the American Vision Medal, was originally a class project to experiment with lighting.
“When taking my photo, I made sure the lighting was behind the egg so that the light would shine through the cracks,” she said. “When editing it, I made it black and white and turned the clarity and texture up so the cracks, spots & texture of the egg would become very clear.”
“Sophia’s image has multiple of values and textures,” said Jay Adams, Rennert’s art teacher. “The backlighting creates a feeling of emerging or breaking through. It seems simple, but she has a great eye.”
Adams has been submitting his students’ work into the Scholastic Art Awards for 12 years. He’s had thousands of students enter.
“To get Gold at Nationals is a rare thing,” he said. “Sophia is my third gold medalist. She is the first one to get American Visions at the national level.”
Rennert said she plans to attend Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona, to major in elementary education and minor in theater.
Edmonds-Woodway’s Tessa Flemming won a Silver Medal for her sculpture, “Involuntary Consumer,” which depicts a sea turtle tangled in plastic.
The awards, sponsored by Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, draw more than 350,000 submissions, with only 2,900 making it to nationals. The Gold Medal winners are scheduled to be honored June 4 at Carnegie Hall in New York.
For some students, the Scholastic Art Awards can change lives. Kim is hoping her honor will help her get into Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to study art and psychology. Her portfolio, “Display Emotions,” included eight pieces and earned her Schack’s Susan Jane Russell Scholarship.
Each piece is to be viewed sequentially, with Kim stuck in a TV and eventually breaking out, including a piece titled “Honest Projection.”
“Getting a Silver Medal for your portfolio in New York is very hard to do,” Bell said of Kim’s art. “She has some wonderful pieces. It falls in line that Angie would be the one to receive a medal for her portfolio. She’s very, very talented.”
Kim said the Schack has been a great help.
“Sometimes it seems like they’re more enthusiastic about my art than I am,” she said. “I feel fortunate to have these organizations to encourage teen artists.”
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