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Inspired by the natural beauty of their home state, famous artists and supportive teachers, student artists throughout Elizabeth School District put forth their best work, and many walked away with confidence and a bit of spending money.
The Air Academy Federal Credit Union district art show was held in early April at Elizabeth High School, and even though some did not place, every student received a kit full of $35 worth of art supplies from an anonymous donor. Some received college scholarship funds up to $500.
Montana Webster, a fifth-grader, attended the ceremony along with best friend Olivia Wagner, a fourth-grader, both from Running Creek Elementary.
“My stomach was flipping, doing somersaults in my body, but Mrs. Mowers was smiling at me, that boosted my confidence,” said Olivia of her art teacher.
They recently finished a study of Claude Monet’s work, which Olivia captured in her layered scene of two people huddled under a boldly colored umbrella, looking out into a garden.
“We were doing Monet so I had to do tiny dots,” Olivia said of preparing her show piece. “I was like, `I’m really stressing.’”
The nervousness turned out to be unnecessary as Olivia and Montana both came in first place for their categories.
“I was shocked. I didn’t think I could get a blue ribbon,” Montana said, explaining how she didn’t feel her Colorado landscape was her best work. Then she got a bigger surprise: best in show for the elementary division.
Montana used watercolors and her love of Colorado to juxtapose Garden of the Gods, which is her favorite place to visit, bluebells, because her mom loves to garden and The Rocky Mountains.
“The sunrise or sunset for the sky just pulled it altogether,” Montana said of the vivid contrast of the sky.
Both students have been drawing, sculpting and painting for most of their young lives. This was one of many first place ribbons for Montana, and as a baby, Olivia’s need to communicate breakfast foods jump-started her ability to draw.
“When I was a 1-year-old I would wake up to the smell of my mom making waffles,” Olivia said. “I would make her a drawing of waffles and give it to her.”
Her passion for art — and waffles — remains strong.
The girls each got $25, and Montana received an extra $75 scholarship check. Though college is a long way off for both students, Olivia thinks she could pursue accounting at Colorado State University, since she currently helps her tax accountant mother with bookkeeping. Montana is undecided about where her scholarship money will end up, but wants to work for NASA as an engineer. Both agreed that they would never give up art as a hobby.
“This school is special. It’s like a family, isn’t it?” Nancy Mower asked her prodigies.
Mower, who has taught the art classes at Running Creek for 19 years, said out of her 35 students who entered the contest, 16 came out with blue ribbons.
Kasey Heap, a senior at Elizabeth High School, also landed a first place and $500 scholarship with her submission. Using silver wire, she created a tree that resembles a weeping willow.
“I always enjoyed art in elementary and middle school, but it wasn’t until my freshman year in high school, when I took Ceramics I, that I really started to learn about pottery and different clay techniques,” Heap said. “That’s when I started to become really interested in art, and in deciding what I wanted to make and how I wanted to make it.”
Heap now has a full portfolio, depicting her artistic growth over the years. Though she plans to apply her scholarship money toward a degree in biology, but considers minoring in sculpture.
“I don’t like the thought of this being my last year of art, so though it may not be my focus, I hope I’ll be able to at least spend some time learning and creating more as I move into college,” Heap said.
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