DGN artists recognized in Scholastic Awards

Maggie Fleming, Opinion Editor

The Scholastics Art and Writing Awards ceremony recognized numerous DGN artists on Jan. 29. All Scholastics entries are considered for a Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, American Voices Nominee, and American Visions Nominee award. The panel of judges select pieces at the regional level based on the Award’s core values: originality, skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision. Let’s take a look at the awarded artists and the creative process that produced their winning pieces.

Aiden Robinson (Jewelry and Metal Work):

Over the past 3 years, senior Aiden Robinson has made a mark on DGN Fine Arts. In 2022, Robinson traveled to Carnegie Hall in New York where he received his first gold medal at the National Scholastics Art and Writing Competition. Less than a year later, Robinson was recognized another 11 times for Jewelry and Sculpture pieces. He won 5 gold keys, qualifying him for nationals, 5 silver keys, and an honorable mention. 

A little over three years ago, Robinson transferred to DGN after being homeschooled. In order to get a high school diploma, he needed a Fine Arts credit. To meet requirements, he enrolled in Jewelry and Metal Work class. Soon after, he realized that he loved jewelry and discovered many ways to connect his passions of mechanical design and engineering into art. 

“I want to be able to take mechanical design, which is commonly thought of as greasy, industrial work, and bring it into a more modern light by showing that this is people’s creativity at work. My art is a small bit that helps break the stereotype that it is some sort of dirty work,” Robinson said. 

Aside from creating art pieces based on specific ideas Robinson hopes to portray to viewers, he finds his creative process to be a form of therapy. 

“I can express something that is going on in my head in a physical way and by doing that I’m taking those emotions, putting them into an object and I can put that object somewhere else and say, ‘okay I’ve rationalized this, I feel better about this now,’ and then I can move forward from that. Then everyone’s like, ‘hey you make really cool art,’ and then I’m like, ‘trust me, there’s a story behind that,” Robinson said. 

Natalie Dibartolo (Ceramics): 

Senior Natalie Dibartolo won her first Scholastics award in Ceramics. Her piece, Chomp, which won a gold key, consisted of three sculpture faces. Her idea originated because she wanted to find a way to incorporate baby teeth into a ceramic piece. The first face sculpture is lined with baby teeth at the top while the second piece has a wire component to it. The final sculpture in the collection was accidentally dropped on the floor while she was trying to move it, leaving it smashed and broken. Instead of throwing it away, Dibartolo’s ceramics teacher encouraged her to keep it. All three of the sculptures were part of her AP Ceramics portfolio which she submitted to Scholastics. 

Throughout Dibartolo’s journey with ceramics and DGN Fine Arts, she recognizes her Ceramics teacher, Amy Bernard, as one of her biggest supporters. 

“I love Ms. Bernard so much. She helps me with all of my stuff and believes in me. She is my biggest supporter. She is the greatest addition to this school,” Dibartolo said. 

When Dibratolo struggles finding inspiration, she turns to other artists to spark her imagination. 

“In my sketchbook and in my phone I have many artists saved. My Instagram reels are filled with ballet and clay which are the two things I enjoy. I get a lot of inspiration from there, all of the cool things I see other people doing makes me want to try new techniques.As Mr. Voelker always says, ‘Steal like an artist’,” Dibartolo said. 

Eve Giesler (Digital Art): 

Senior Eve Giesler was recognized three times at the Scholastics Award ceremony. She was recognized with a Silver key for a Jewelry and Metal Work piece called Moon Moth. She won another Silver Key for a piece called The Horned One and a Gold Key for Holy Melancholy. Both these pieces are digital art containing a sort of religious undertone through the portrayal of a glowing light.

“I drew from Catholic- Christian iconography with the glowing halo in the back and the shroud. I took inspiration from 19th century photographers’ series of portraits of women. A lot of my inspiration came from the reference photos of one that was called Women in a Holy Study,” Giesler said. 

In the future, Giesler hopes to incorporate digital art into her life somehow. Whether that be as a career or a hobby. 

“It’s [pursuing art as a career] difficult because the industry always seems like it is ebbing and flowing with artists. Digital art is much better for career prospects because studio art and ceramics is a lot of gallery work which is hard to get into because it’s about who you know and how well connected you are,” Giesler said. 

Sarah Woods (Photography): 

Senior photographer Sarah Woods won three Gold Keys, one Silver Key, and an Honorable Mention. All of their recognition’s were for pieces which were a part of their AP Photography portfolio titled Reflection of Self.

All the pieces in Woods’ portfolio were connected to one theme they focused on throughout the first and second semester of photography class. 

“My defining question was, ‘How can I visually portray experiences of queer people?’ So, it’s very much based on my experiences and a lot of research,” Woods said. 

An artist that inspired much of Woods’ work is Wolfgang Tillmans, a German photographer who is well known for shooting the Frank Ocean album cover, Blonde.

“He has a series where he went to some European country in his youth and photographed a ton of scenes from queer bars and it’s so cool. It’s the type of photography where it’s documentary-esque but also very clearly has a message. The composition is thought about and it captures connections without any words. I love photography so much because it can do that,” Woods said. 

Sarah Paul (Painting and Drawing/Illustration): 

Junior Sarah Paul won five awards; one Gold Key, three Silver Keys, and an Honorable Mention for a colored pencil drawing titled Epiphany. Her oil painting called Pressure won a Silver Key and her Gold Key award recognized another painting called Bodys. Paul’s other Silver Keys were awarded to her pencil drawing called Morning Coffee and a pen drawing called Forest. 

Many of Paul’s pieces are part of an AP Portfolio. Each focuses on one central figure in order to highlight the theme of isolation. 

“For each piece I created, I strived to present technology’s impact on an individual. Eventually, it transformed into isolation a digital identity can cause,” Paul said. 

In order to portray her intended theme, Paul used different techniques.

My investigation wanted to show a disconnect from others; I did this through the use of color, switches between medium, and the positioning of the central figure vs. the background,” Paul said.