Olympia HS artists win state and local awards

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Olympia HS artists win state and local awards
Olympia High School Student Artwork

There has been a lot to celebrate in the art world at Olympia High School this spring as eight OHS students earned awards at two contests -- the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Art Show and the Capital Region Educational Service District (ESD) 113 High School Art Contest. In total eight students were recognized at the district contest and moved up to state, where three won awards when judged against submissions from across Washington state. This is the third consecutive year that OHS has had at least one winner at the OSPI Art Show.


At the state level, students Cecelia Baldwin, Ryan Cunningham and Yuki Kondo each earned $200 prizes for their artwork. Those students were also recognized at the district level, along with classmates Sarah Swanstrom, Ella Hubbard, Sofia Benford, Ethan Castro and Whitney Sederberg. Two of the students earned scholarships to Central Washington University: Whitney Sederberg for $2,000 and Ella Hubbard for $3,000.


Baldwin, who’s piece “Wednesday Afternoons” won a state-level prize, said her project was related to a theme she has been focusing on all year. “The art I’m making this year is primarily focused on locations and environments that I think shape and define me,” she said. “This particular piece is in reference to a tradition my friends and I used to have, where after school every Wednesday we would go to a local coffee shop.” Baldwin plans to study art history and preservation in college next year.


Cunningham, who also won a state award, incorporated seashells and paper mache in her project “Big Blue Whale.” “I’ve always loved the ocean in general, growing up on the west coast, so I’ve always enjoyed creating art of sea creatures and I’ve really been getting into unconventional materials this year,” Cunningham said. In addition to winning the state prize, Cunningham earned a $63,000 scholarship to attend the Art Institute of Chicago next year.


A photograph taken during a family trip to Japan is what inspired the piece “Summer Days,” said Kondo, who also won a state award. “There were many things that I wanted to incorporate such as the getas and hanaos on each of our feet and the beautiful manhole unique to the location we visited,” Kondo said. “I’m ecstatic that there were people who saw not only the piece itself, but the emotions and work behind it. It is a painting that I am very proud of.”


Career & Technical Education (CTE) Art Teacher Josh Everson said he is proud of the art program at OHS, led by himself and Ceramics and 3D Art Teacher Katie Jahner.


"The art department at Olympia HS is centered around professional experiences for young artists,” Everson said. “We practice skills and techniques, but students also learn and experience opportunities, applications, contests, and scholarships that help them in the next steps of their life. These experiences bleed seamlessly into other pathways and prepare students for a variety of life challenges. Katie Jahner and I both agree that our favorite part of teaching art is working to understand students more personally and using the therapeutic nature of art making to help the emotional needs of students, especially in 2021.”