Every year, the DGN Fine Arts Department honors graduating seniors by choosing one artist and giving them the title ‘Distinguished Artist’. This year will continue the tradition of announcing the winners by continuing their award ceremony using a virtual setting.
“Each teacher chooses one student that we feel stands out for a lot of different reasons. Either they were with us for all four years or maybe they earned a lot of scholastic school awards, or they are really great citizens that contribute to the class and help others.” fine arts teacher Robyn Bican said. “It’s a high honor and something that is really special for us teachers and for the students who take our art classes in the art department.”
DGN Fine Arts usually holds around 12 shows per year, however, due to shutdowns and remote learning, the events switched to being held over a virtual setting. Fine Arts teacher Edward Voelker has seen the positive outcomes that arose from the shows.
“We’ve done a spring show last year virtually. We did a mosaic art show virtually. We’re doing another spring show virtually.” Voelker said. “Scholastic art awards have happened, the Chicagoland 4 by 5 show, the College of DuPage graphic design and illustration contest, congressional art show. Every single one of those shows, we’ve continued to go ahead and move forward and have students submit, even though it’s virtual.”
Voelker named senior Ugne Nalivakaite the Distinguished Artist for Drawing, which came as a big surprise for Nalivakaite.
“When it comes to recognition, I personally never expect it because I’m such a hard critique on myself and feel that there are so many people who deserve to be recognized as well.” Nalivakaite said. “However, it feels really nice to be recognized for something you’re passionate about.”
Nalivakaite takes inspiration from sustainability and nature. This year, she has introduced outside media to be added to her artwork.
“It felt really good to be more sustainable and use the fallen leaves in the fall and dying flowers and preserve them in my art. The pieces also turned out pretty cool, which is always a bonus.” Nalivaikaite said. “Looking for ways to be more sustainable is a huge motivation because finding ways to make your own paint or finding materials takes time. So when you do find something, you’re so eager to create with it.”
Along with Nalivakaite, senior Annelise Spinosa received the ‘Distinguished Artist’ title for Computer Art by Voelker.
“She’s been doing bunches of original character designs and studying how people actu
ally propose shows to networks. She’s been looking at those and using those references to develop her portfolio and her formatting.” Voelker said. “She is an amazing production and prolific artist. She can do double the amount of work the average advanced student could do.”
Spinosa receives her inspiration from television cartoons, for which she hopes to create her own animated show in the future.
“My favorite piece this year was making a height chart for six of my main cartoon characters I would like to put into a show one day.” Spinosa said. “It felt official to me as if it were coming together to be put on television. All different types of cartoons inspire me, from ol
der, classic shows to newer, recent cartoons you watch and can’t wait for that next season.”
Senior Zack Gayten was named a Distinguished Artist within Jewelry and Metalwork by Bican. His artwork takes inspiration from nature and animals.
“My favorite piece I created was my bird sculpture since I was fascinated by birds. I also like to think of birds as being free so I wanted my artwork and creativity to be the same way.” Gayten said. “I get my motivation mainly from nature since I want to try giving the same beauty that nature has to my artwork.”
Senior Gracie Gwozdz was named the Distinguished Artist for Ceramics by fine arts teacher Amy Bernard. Gwozdz has proved herself to be advanced within the art, taking upon bigger projects and concepts.
“She is my only studio student who decided to go ahead and set up a [AP Studio Art 3-D Portfolio].” Bernard said. “I think she’s shown a lot of resilience and creativity within
her work, especially this year.”
Gwozdz uses her art to reflect her views on contemporary issues.
“This year I mainly focused on women’s issues including rights to birth control, rape culture, assault, etc.” Gwozdz said. “I like to use my pieces to express my ideas that are hard to put into words, but I also hope people can understand and connect with them in some way.”
Gwozdz’s favorite piece she created was titled ‘Addicted’ which focuses on mental health and addiction.
“I had been struggling for a while at the time and wanted to create something to express my thoughts and feelings that other kids could relate to. It created a lot of controversies and people even started rumors that I had been suspended for it.” Gwozdz said. “This surprisingly motivated me even more because it started a conversation, which was my goal with this project. I love making art that doesn’t necessarily conform to what people want to see along with using my pieces to shine a light on issues that aren’t talked about enough.”
Fine arts teacher Joshua Hoering named senior Gavin Crowson the Distinguished Artist for Photography. As part to expand Crowson’s artistic passion, Hoering set up an independent study class for his next career steps.
“In the fall, Gavin enrolled in an independent study class with me and together we explored the business and creative aspects of commercial photography in addition to his AP Photography portfolio class to develop this part of his practice as a professional photographer.” Hoering said.
Because of the independent study and years of classes, Crowson feels very prepared to continue his career in photography.
“I’m majoring in media production in college and there are plenty of clubs and opportunities for me to continue photography for the next 4 years. The first semester of this year Mr. Hoering the photography teacher made a commercial photography course for me and it helped me get a great idea on how to turn my passion into a career.” Crowson said. “Over the last 4 years, my art teachers have prepared me well for the next steps in college but have helped me grow to be a better artist and person too.”