KENNETT SQUARE—Kennett High School students Andy Lucero, Nina Gralewski-Goel, Meghan Kelly, Kiley Larkin, Chayse D’Andrade, and Hailey Maurer were recognized for their exceptional talent at the 2021 Chester County High School and 6th Congressional District Virtual Art Exhibition.
Art students from schools across Chester County entered nearly 500 pieces in the virtual show which accumulated 1,523 total votes, and 9,599 total page views. The week-long show ran from April 17 through April 24 at the Chester County Art Association.
Andy, Nina, Meghan, and Kiley are students of art teacher Mr. Tom Hironimus, and Chayse and Hailey are students of ceramics teacher Ms. Jodi Davidson.
Senior Andy Lucero was the second place People’s Choice Award Winner, as well as earning second place in mixed media, for her self-portrait done in colored pencil. Andy has been “drawing, painting, and crafting things ever since elementary school,” but she has been participating in art classes for about eight years, having taken all the basic art courses provided by the middle and high schools.
When asked about the idea behind her self-portrait, Andy said, “It was heavily inspired by a colored pencil portrait that I saw a senior friend of mine make last year. I was so fascinated by how he incorporated blues and greens into a person's skin tone to add depth to their drawing, and I wanted to try that for myself.”
Andy sees art as “a key component” of her future, as she intends to pursue a career in computer animation.
“What started out as a passion will soon become my livelihood, and I wouldn't have it any other way,” Andy revealed.
Junior Nina Gralewski-Goel won second place in the drawing category. Nina has been participating in fine art classes at the high school since freshman year, having also taken summer courses and a class at Moore College of Art after receiving a scholarship from Ms. Amanda Clapp at Kennett Middle School.
Nina’s graphite piece was inspired by her interest in “drawing faces that diverge from
Eurocentric beauty perspectives.”
“Features that may be seen as imperfections in everyday life become intentional and purposeful when incorporated into art,” Nina observed.
She hopes to pursue studio art as a minor in college.
Earning third place in mixed media, senior Meghan Kelly has been taking art all four years of high school, starting with the basic course freshman year and working her way up.
Her winning piece was influenced by objects that have “a special meaning” to her or that she uses “on an everyday basis.”
She plans to continue taking art courses in college and also maintain it as a hobby outside of school.
“Art has been my favorite class all of high school, so I can't wait to continue,” she beamed.
Senior Kiley Larkin was awarded third place in drawing. She has been taking art classes since freshman year, and she has taken all the studio art classes offered
Kiley’s inspiration came from one of her other interests: dance.
“I am a dancer, and I have always admired Misty Copeland, so I decided to use her as the subject of my graphite piece,” explained Kiley.
“In the future, I hope to continue creating art in some form, but as more of a hobby. It is relaxing and rewarding,” she added.
Understandably, Mr. Hironimus had high praise for his students.
“It’s definitely a wonderful achievement any year a student can win an award at the Chester County Art Exhibition. It’s a very large group of very skilled young artists. They are the best of the best in Chester County’s high schools. This year, though, to have four young women win five awards is particularly special, considering all that these students have been through over the past twelve months. They persevered and achieved amazing results. I could not be more proud of these young artists for the heart they have shown over the past school year. They are truly special,” he said.
Mr. Hironimus explained further: “When you consider that there were only twelve ‘place’ awards and four honorable mention awards given out to People’s choice in drawing, painting, and mixed media, it’s pretty impressive,” since Kennett students took five of the sixteen possible awards.
Kennett High School’s exceptional ceramics students also took home awards.
Senior Hailey Maurer’s first year in ceramics yielded tremendous results, as her Japanese
Garden Lantern won the Excellence in Sculpture award.
As a beginner, she found working at home when school buildings were closed to be a significant challenge.
“I had no clue what I was doing,” she admitted. As a result, she “really enjoyed” coming back into the classroom and believes that her more recent projects were completed more easily, and they are “nicer looking” because she had “so many new things to use.”
Her vision for creating her award-winning fairy piece was determined “simply by googling various images of Japanese garden lanterns,” and then she “combined a few different pictures” in her head “to come up with a sketch.”
Chayse D’Andrade, also a senior, has been taking ceramics for two years and is currently a student in Ms. Davidson’s advanced ceramics course.
Chayse explained the vision behind her piece: “It came after we were assigned a whimsical fairy house project, and I did research on similar ideas and styles. The house I made was a combination of my own ideas as well as others that I saw while looking through pictures.”
Chayse added that working at home in the early months of the school year “made it challenging to create ceramics at times because of all the tools [she] didn't have access to.”
However, Chayse admitted that it also provided the opportunity to be more creative and inventive, since it forced her “to use more unique tools and techniques with items around the house.”
Planning to continue doing ceramics as a hobby through college, she hopes to “start throwing on the wheel in addition to hand-building.”
Like Mr. Hironimus, Ms. Davidson highlighted the challenges of art education during the building closure.
“Teaching a Ceramics Class virtually was something new for me and my students. I wanted to give them a great year, no matter what the circumstances were because of COVID restrictions,” said Ms. Davidson.
She went on to commend her young artists: “Each student surpassed my expectations of creating projects in a virtual setting, and I couldn't be prouder of the work they were able to achieve in a home studio with clay.”
All of the artists discussed the difficulties in pursuing their art and completing projects during the months that KHS was fully remote. They cited issues ranging from finding a “good space, lighting, and quiet to be able to work effectively” to “not having ‘H’ (Mr. Hironimus) there monitoring work and giving suggestions every day.”