ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENTS: Student artwork takes center stage at countywide show

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Pictured: Selects from the Hancock County student art show. Artwork from all the county’s schools in various forms were on display at Eastern Hancock High School.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Student artists are still basking in the glow from seeing their artwork displayed at the 35th annual Hancock County Art Show at Eastern Hancock High School last week.

The show — April 21-22 in the high school’s gym — featured a wide variety of artwork done by students in all grade levels, from all four Hancock County school systems.

“We had an outstanding showing both Thursday and Friday evening,” said Amanda Graupner, an Eastern Hancock art teacher who helped coordinate the revolving show, which is hosted at a different county high school each year.

Eastern Hancock teacher Cathleen Huffman stopped by Thursday night to provide a watercolor painting demonstration while the Eastern Hancock band stopped by to play jazz music during Friday’s show.

Each year, the county’s art teachers donate artwork and art supplies to be raffled off or bidded on in a silent auction, with the money raised going to an outstanding senior selected from each high school.

More than $500 was raised this year, which will be used to buy art supply gift cards for the selected students: Serena Masters from Eastern Hancock; Brenna Bonek from Greenfield-Central; Taylor Loi from Mt. Vernon; and co-winners Nikole Akers and Kaci Ellison from New Palestine.

Eastern Hancock’s winner, Serena Masters, has been taking art classes since the sixth grade, and plans to study art therapy in college this fall.

Greenfield-Central’s winner, Brenna Bonek, also plans to study art in college this fall — majoring in painting and minoring in art history at The Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga.

She hopes the top senior recognition within her school will help pave the way for some scholarships this year.

“I feel like with art sometimes it’s hard to gauge or quantify your work and how accomplished you are, so I think this is a really nice way to show how hard I’ve worked,” said Brenna, 18, who has taken art classes all four years of high school.

Last week, she had five or six pieces in the county art show, including her favorite, an expressive ink drawing of two creatures both fighting and holding hands.

“It’s one of my favorites, and a lot of my friends like it as well. It’s about getting to know yourself and how you fight with yourself, but you can also learn to love yourself,” said Brenna, who focuses on oil painting but also does some acrylics, photography and collages.

Greenfield-Central sophomores Hannah Short and Madi Succaw said it was a thrill to have their artwork featured at the show.

“It’s really nice to go to the show and see your work being appreciated,” said Hannah, 15, who had four pieces of art in this year’s exhibit, including a pottery piece featuring embedded glass.

Sixteen-year-old Madi agreed.

“The art show is a great way to recognize a group of students who don’t normally get a lot of recognition,” said Madi, who had three pieces in this year’s show.

“Taking art in school is a great opportunity for a lot of kids to be creative and express themselves in different ways other than sports and academics,” she said.

Graupner said over 70 middle school and high school students from Eastern Hancock participated in the show last week, and almost every elementary student had art in the show.

Jeff Weiland, who has been teaching art at Greenfield-Central High School for 32 years, considers himself lucky to be among the 22 art teachers in schools throughout Hancock County.

He looks forward to the county-wide art show each year.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for the students and for the teachers to be able to display what their students have done throughout the year,” he said.

“There’s a lot of publicity and support out there for sports and a lot of other school activities, but this show is an opportunity for us to recognize those kids with artistic talents,” said the longtime educator, who was thrilled to see so many people turn out for this year’s show.

While students like Serena and Brenna are ready to take their artistic pursuits to new heights in college, underclassmen are likely already planning what types of projects they’ll showcase at the county-wide art show next spring, when it will be hosted by Southern Hancock County Community School Corp.