Three students from Alaska were selected to visit New York for their awards in a national art competition, including Juneau’s Cierra Campbell and Claire Scott. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

Three students from Alaska were selected to visit New York for their awards in a national art competition, including Juneau’s Cierra Campbell and Claire Scott. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

Brushes with greatness: Juneau students earn recognition in national art competition

Students brought home gold medals and an American Vision Award.

More than half a dozen Juneau high school students won Scholastic Awards at the state and national levels for the 2020 school year.

“This is a prestigious award. It’s been around since the ‘20s and lots of famous artists have been recognized by this award,” said Heather Ridgway, art teacher for Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé. “I encourage students to apply when they’ve got really good work.”

The awards act as a sort of clearinghouse for many awards sponsored by companies that support the arts, Ridgway said.

“Being recognized for my art is very exciting and humbling,” said Jojo Griggs, a JDHS student who won a Gold Key, the highest state honor, among other awards. “It means a lot to me that other people like looking at my art as much as I like making it.”

Griggs’ painting “Isolation” won the Gold Key and was an American Vision nominee. She had a clear idea of what she wanted to create with “Isolation,” so the painting took a little less than four hours to complete, Griggs said.

The painting depicts a feminine face partially obscured by shadow.

“Isolation” by Jojo Griggs won a Gold Key and was nominated for an American Vision Award in Alaska’s Scholastic art competition. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

“Isolation” by Jojo Griggs won a Gold Key and was nominated for an American Vision Award in Alaska’s Scholastic art competition. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

“I’ve always been drawn to people’s faces because they can express so much in so many different ways. For this piece in particular, I was playing with contrast and how it can change the emotion portrayed in the painting,” Griggs said. ”I was inspired by black and white chiaroscuro portraits from the sixties. They portray drama and beauty very well and I was immediately drawn to them.”

Art comes in many forms. Claire Scott, another JDHS student, won a Gold Key and a National Gold Medal for her comic, ‘Wild Zest.”

[Great Scott! This 16 year old published her second graphic novel]

“My biggest inspirations for ‘The Wild Zest’ (National Gold Medal in Comic Art) were classic Western stories, and shows like ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and ‘Master Chef,’” Scott said. “The idea of Gordon Ramsay being a time traveler was silly enough for me to want to make a comic out of it.”

Cierra Campbell, a Thunder Mountain High School student, won Alaska’s American Vision Award at the national level for her art. Campbell, Scott and Dimond High School student Malia Main were invited to New York City for the awards ceremony, but that was canceled because of the coronavirus.

“Cabin Fever” by Altain Soltys-Gray received an honorable mention in Alaska’s Scholastic art competition. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

“Cabin Fever” by Altain Soltys-Gray received an honorable mention in Alaska’s Scholastic art competition. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

The strongest pieces, Ridgway said, were ones that had themes or concepts that spoke to judges during a particularly fraught time as the coronavirus isolates and concerns many people.

“I wouldn’t say my art is relevant to what’s going on right now, especially since I made most of it last year, but of course, artistic interpretation is always up to the viewer,” Scott said. “Outside of my own art, I’d say that more people at this time are looking for entertainment and art seems to be filling that role more than ever.”

Celia Wheeler of JDHS and Abigail Sparks and Alain Soltys-Gray of TMHS were also awarded for their creations. There were more than 3,000 entries for Alaska alone, Ridgway said.

“Winter Outfits” by Claire Scott won a Silver Key in Alaska’s Scholastic art competition. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

“Winter Outfits” by Claire Scott won a Silver Key in Alaska’s Scholastic art competition. (Courtesy art | Heather Ridgway)

The full gallery of Alaska’s winners and honorable mentions can be found online at https://youngemergingartistsalaska.org/gallery/.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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