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Valley shows artistic savvy

Ursuline senior earns top ranking

Correspondent photo / Sean Barron Lorenzo Sprockett, an Ursuline High School senior, looks at a piece of his artwork, top, titled “The Guardian,” which is a color pencil portrait of his girlfriend, Julie Ostrowski, and her late grandmother. Sprockett was among five American Vision nominees who were awarded for their works during Saturday’s 2022 Scholastics Art Competition in Youngstown State University’s Bliss Hall.

YOUNGSTOWN — For much of her young life, Julie Ostrowski has felt a vicarious bond with her paternal grandmother whom she never met, but thanks to her boyfriend’s artistic talents, that connection has deepened.

“My grandmother died and one month later, my parents learned they were pregnant with me,” Ostrowski said.

The South Range High School senior will have a stronger sense of her grandmother that may go into perpetuity, thanks to Lorenzo Sprockett, an Ursuline High School senior, who created a piece of artwork with colored pencils he titled “The Guardian.”

The work depicts a sad Ostrowski sitting in her home with a tear in her eye looking at a ghostly and wispy recreation of her grandmother entering through the front door. The figure has a benign look and is trying to comfort Ostrowski.

The work is likely more than merely comforting for Sprockett, though, because it helped him become one of five area high school students who were American Vision nominees, the top ranking in the 2022 Scholastics Art Competition.

ABOUT THE COMPETITION

Students in grades seven to 12 from Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties were recognized for their 474 entries that consisted of individual pieces or portfolios, during Saturday’s awards program at Youngstown State University’s Bliss Hall. Last year, the pandemic dropped the show to under 300 entries.

The other American Vision nominees were Emma Dodig and Quinton Miller of Canfield High School; Thomas Hull, Ursuline; and Emily Bennett, Lakeview. The five will compete nationally “with the best in the country,” Josh MacMillan, event coordinator, noted.

In addition to the American Vision delineation, the others received honorable mentions as well as Silver and Gold keys. The Gold Key finishers will qualify to compete in New York City with students from across the country, MacMillan added.

Seniors were able to compete with individual pieces and portfolios. This year’s Gold Key portfolio winners are Kellen Davis Hall of Niles McKinley (teacher Laurie DeLucia) and Molly Stein and Emily Bennett of Lakeview (teacher Jeff Piper). Along with their portfolios, these seniors also received additional Gold Keys for their individual submissions. These Gold Key winners, along with 25 others, will be competing for a chance to have their work hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City later this spring.

MacMillan said the American Vision winners also will get judged in the Gold Key category in New York.

“Seven percent of the submissions locally earn Gold Key status,” he said.

WINNING WORKS

Sprockett said he hopes to “do something with art,” although another top priority for him is preparing to enter the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Sprockett added his career choice is undecided.

One thing that is decided, however, is the status of Bennett’s six-piece art portfolio, which she titled “Progression of Life through Color and Crisis” and for which she won four Gold Keys. During her high school career, she has earned nine Gold Keys, seven Silver Keys, four honorable mentions and four American Vision Awards, along with a 2021 National Silver Medal.

“The concept displays how I view aging in today’s society and corruption,” the Lakeview High senior explained.

Her series includes a self-portrait and an image of the effects of mass media on children, she noted.

Bennett, who was accepted at Columbia University in New York City to study art, said her interest in the subject began in childhood, at which time “I doodled constantly.” Attending a variety of art shows over the years solidified her passion for art, which is one of the main ways she hopes to be remembered, Bennett continued.

Her art teacher at Lakeview, Jeff Piper, told MacMillan, “Emily has been one of those students that have made what I do as an educator very fulfilling. As a freshman, I noticed that she had talent and a creative mind, but it would be the next few years that demonstrated her ambition, studious personality and unique mind. As teachers, we can show students how to do things, but it then becomes up to the student to use what has been taught for their own individual creations. Emily has been a model student. She listens, absorbs, practices and uses what she has learned to find her own individual voice in the visual arts.”

“It was sort of a hodgepodge, doodly thing,” Hull, an Ursuline High junior, said about the mixed-media work he entered into the competition.

Hull added he used paint, ink and gel pens and tape to create his work, a process that took about a month. His primary influences were the effects of philosophy on art, as well as certain actions from friends, he explained.

KEYNOTE ARTIST

Delivering the program’s keynote presentation was Joshua Ryhal, a local artist who specializes in using ballpoint pens.

Ryhal, who described himself as quiet and introverted, told the audience, which consisted largely of the students’ families, music and art allowed him to more freely express himself to others.

Even with a full-time career, Ryhal felt something was missing in his life, so he began spending about two years working on his craft, he remembered. In time, a friend encouraged him to enter some of his works at a Comic Con event, which was a stepping stone for Ryhal to “fulfill my childhood dream to be an artist,” he said.

He also advised those interested in art to be creative in how they want others to see their works — especially with the ubiquity of the internet and social media. It’s also important to be fearless and courageous regarding showing their projects, he continued.

“You have to let the world see it,” Ryhal added. “Art comes from the soul and is not afraid to ask the hard questions.”

MacMillian, who also is Hubbard High School’s art teacher, thanked Akron Children’s Hospital, the YSU Foundation and the Boardman Rotary for sponsoring the show and subsidizing it for little or no cost to teachers and students.

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