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Ceramic set of miniatures, by Levi Hafen, East High School.

For Amanda Joelle Decker, a student at Orem High School, art is a journey of "personal discovery of what I can accomplish." For her oil painting "Chip," "I challenged my skills with this display and I didn't stop until I had mastered replicating glass."

Jessica C Locke, a student at Fremont High School, also enjoys the quest to find something new. Her "Sugar Coated Iris," done with gel pen, "was the most grueling and challenging work I have ever taken on. The inspiration I got for the work was a picture I had taken at night of a type of hybrid iris that my did and I raise. The flower in the picture was so pixellated that it almost looked like candy crystals. I decided that I would use glitter gel pen and stipple the whole picture; 100 hours afterward I came out with this gorgeous work of art."

Jessica Cannon, a junior at Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, sees in art not only a challenge to herself but also her viewers. Her acrylic interpretation of "Winged Victory" is meant to inspire. "How can anyone look at this majestic statue without wanting to fly? For anyone within the sound of my brush — it is my challenge to you to find your Nike! Find that one thing that makes you want to soar."

Every piece of art in the 39th Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show, now on display at the Springville Museum of Art, has a similar story, a similar appeal.

"This is one of my favorite shows," says Natalie Petersen, associate director of the museum. "I'm very impressed with the talent and creativity. I love seeing what strikes the students as significant, the variety of both subjects and genres."

With 340 works of art, juried down from more than 900 submissions from 98 schools, the show is one of the largest exhibitions of its kind in the country, she says.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate what is right in Utah schools," adds Virgil Jacobsen, assistant director and curator of education at the museum, "with teachers working so hard to help students develop their skills and abilities." The art shows serves as a means of honoring the best high school artists in the state for their talent, creativity and dedication, he says.

The exhibition is also a great introduction to the professional world of art, Petersen says. Going through the jurying process teaches them a lot about professional exhibitions, she says. "It's a self-esteem builder that generalizes to other parts of their lives." She remembers going to the Utah State Capitol one year when student art was being honored. "One student's mother came up to me with tears in her eyes. 'You have no idea what this means to my son,' she told me. 'It has done tremendous things for him.' It means a lot to them all."

The opportunity to display their art in a major show is fun and exciting, but there are also opportunities for scholarships, chances to meet professional artists and educators and other benefits from being selected to be part of the show.

In addition, one work is chosen from each of Utah's congressional districts to be part of a national show at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Airfare provided by Southwest Airlines allows the students to attend the opening of the exhibition.

But, while the show offers a lot to the students, it is also important for the community, Petersen says. It lets people see the results of a lot of hard work and discipline, to see positive things that teens are doing.

"I love to see the teenage perception of life as represented by the art," Petersen says. "They put it out there, without filter. High school is a time when they are struggling with who they are, trying to find their place in the world. It is very interesting to see how art is part of that."

Comments from the students reveal their outlooks, their desires, their passions.

"I portray the pressures and expectations that society places on us," Mallory Culley, Bingham High School, says of her watercolor "Washed Gray;" and of her "Transitory," explains, "it portrays the transitory nature of mankind. If you look closely, the trolley is headed into darkness. We may not know where we are headed, nor can we see it, but it is that transitory nature that drives us on."

Robert Douglas Asay's "Radiance," done in stone and glassware, "shows how a person can be judged unfavorably based on the outside appearance, but on closer inspection the good qualities shine through and the outer shell doesn't seem so broken," says the Viewmont student.

"I have observed that people today are very judgmental of each other," Juab's Cori Sara Nelson says of her watercolor/pencil work "Pieces." "I simply wish that we could see that each and every one of us is broken, scratched, cracked, missing pieces and rough around the edges. I wish we could see that these flaws are what make each of us uniquely beautiful."

Experimentation is also a big part of student art. Kealey Beth Lindsey, Fremont, dedicated "Coffee Horse" to a beloved animal but also noted, "it was my first experience with the medium, and I really liked the contrast and shiny texture."

Alexandra Nicole Skrabut, Spanish Fork, has two goals with her acrylic "Fly Away": "convey the diaphanous volume in folds of cloth and to paint something white but not white."

Murray's Anna Lynn Stephens "recently developed a keen interest in the style known as 'steam punk.' It is very fun to experiment with and can lead to a lot of very interesting concepts." One of those is her acrylic "Time's Angel."

The students also love the expressiveness that art affords. "My inspiration comes from my love of fantasy," says Briana Shea Williams, Ben Lomond, of her ceramic "Sleepy Head." "I enjoy things that do not exist in reality. I love to put new things into the world, things that are mine alone."

"Sunrise is the beginning and winter is the end. Together they form a breathtaking scene that reminds me of how beautifully opposites can bring peace to the soul," says Baylee Shon Smith, Beaver High School, of "Winter Sunrise."

Austin J Buhler, Delta, is "studying to be a chef and food is my media. I use the elements and principles of art to create culinary compositions by employing color, texture, contrast, space, gesture, value, rhythm to name a few." His photograph of these creations is titled "App, Main Dessert."

Whether they are creating photographs, portraits, landscapes, ceramics, or abstracts; whether they are depicting angst, whimsy, real life or geometrics, the students share a passion for art that comes through clearly, Petersen says. "This is quite an amazing show."

And most of the students would probably agree with Diana June Gentillon, Academy for Math, English and Science, whose acrylic "Glamor" is part of the show and who notes, "Art is my one true love. I use it to express my feelings, thoughts and ideals. One day I hope to build my world around it."

e-mail: carma@desnews.com

If you go:

What: 39th Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show

Where: Springville Museum of Art, 126 E. 400 South

When: Through March 25; Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 3-6 p.m.

How much: Free

Phone: 801-489-2727

Web: www.smofa.org

Juror's Award winners

Education Director's Award: Kristen Janet Brunson, "The Creationist," colored pencil.

Master's Awards: Morgan Lynn Bronson, "Dulce Et Decorum Est," mixed media; Jamie Yolonda Foremaster, "Alyssa," charcoal; Joe'E Antoinetta Moon, "Diptych: A Pear's Reflection," oil; Amanda Syphus, "What's the difference," clay.

Excellence Awards: Stephanie Burnish, "Skulls," stoneware; Adrienne Fretz, "Moments Old as Time," silver; Laura Judd, "Pasture," gelatin silver; Maren Knudson, "Party in a Bottle," oil; Emily Lloyd, "Fibonacci," digital; Rachel Rogers, "Azure Day (Plein Air)," pastel; Teayzsha Zayjelle Selin, "Glass Bubbles," pen, ink, watercolor; Charlie Steadman, "Bird Man," watercolor; Sarah Elizabeth Wight, "Threshold to Infinity," digital photo; Skye Kirstyn Willard, "The Leaving Time," photography.

Merit Awards: Ryan Andrew Anderson, "Floating Knowledge," paper; McKenzie Barnes, "Kenzie," charcoal; Jessica Cannon, "Hidden," acrylic; Rachel Croft, "Crane," oil and ink; Mallory Culley, "Washed Gray," watercolor; David Anthony Glenn, "Untitled," ink; Joseph Seller Goldsmith, "Untitled," metal; Levi Hafen, "Set of Miniatures," ceramic; Dalton W. Hill, "Boy Sets His World on Fire," mixed media, paper; Parker Glen Hogan, "Cross-Contamination," photograph; Adrian Kulpanowski, "Silver Sphere," cast silver; Catherine LeVitre, "Tonalist Portrait in Beech," beechwood and acrylic; McKinzie Lyn Madsen, "Music Therapy," computer illustration; Jerusha Lynn Pimentel, "Faces Rarely Shown," charcoal; Trello Urech Prince, "Upward Mobility," charcoal; Taylor Coleman Read, "Cultured Glory," stoneware; Alex R. Sanders, "Opportunity," ink; McQuiston Marie Stoddard, "How Pertinax a Fondatio Onis," etching; Kyra Lee Thompson, "Paramore;" pen and ink; Emily Tidwell, "Untitled," acrylic, mixed media.

Congressional Award Winners

1st District: first place — Will H. Carlisle, "Rural Marshes," digital photography; second place — Sarah Christine Johnson, "Untitled," photography; third place — Olivia Anne Snarr, "Connection," graphite; honorable mentions — Peter Beck, "Drumset," color pencil; Garrett Evans, "Cheetah," watercolor; Chandler Kirk Leetzow, "Concentrici-Tea," ceramic; Alison Nicole Mitchell, "Self Portrait #108," charcoal.

2nd District: first place — Katelyn Sorenson, "Carnival of Color," watercolor; second place — Jennifer Bennett Nichols, "Reflection," watercolor; third place — Daniel Leavitt, "Fish bowl and lines," watercolor; honorable mentions — Talus Baddley, "Eric," ceramic; Hayley Knouff, "Waxed," watercolor; Jourdan T. Nabhan, "Content," oil; Adrianna N. Olivares, "A Rain Forest Dream," paper mache/acrylic.

3rd District: first place — Amanda Joelle Decker, "Chip," oil; second place — Cori Sara Nelson, "Pieces," watercolor, pencil; third place — David Kevin Graham, "Irreplaceable," oil; honorable mentions — Nicole Marie Boteilho, "Mr. Snail," stoneware; Gracy Haoge Liu, "Yin Yang," pastel; Alexandra Nicole Skrabut, "Fly Away," acrylic; Preston Vodopich, "Ranch Hand," clay.