Best in Show: Leah Swan, AP Studio Art - Grade 12 Stamford High School-Titled: "Bicycle at SHS" in graphite, 16 by 24 inches. Photo: Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools
Diana Wawrzonkieiwicz, Color Pencil, Grade 10, Drawing and Painting Class "Still Life with Candy," 2nd Place for Drawing painting by Diana Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools
Ivana Nique, Pottery, Grade 10 Stamford High School-Potters Wheel Class -Titled "Llama Peruvian Inspired Vase" 2nd Place for Three Dimensional Category Photo: Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools
Richard Verbanic, AP Studio Art - Grade 11: Stamford High School-First Place for the Photography Category - "Tunnel Vision" Photo: Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stamford Public Schools

Stamford Art Students Draw Prestigious Attention, Top Awards

A flourishing school art program in Fairfield County is preparing its students to become "visual and creative thinkers" for their 21st-Century career and a prestigious art gallery has taken notice.

Fourteen students from Stamford School District's three high schools, including a top winner, received awards at the Silvermine Guild in New Canaan, at the Teen Visions Art Show Nov. 17.

The exhibition was sponsored by Jerry's ARTARAMA and showcased artwork by students in the district's three high schools: Academy of Information Technology & Engineering (AITE), Stamford High School (SHS), and Westhill High School (WHS).

Advance Placement Studio Art Teacher Timothy 'Teek' Eaton-Koch talked about the district's diverse art program, which nurtures expression from a young age through graduation. Parents can help by encouraging their children to tell visual stories even before they begin going to school.

"We are fortunate in the Stamford Public Schools to have a diversity of classes, where each student has art from the beginning of their elementary school career,," he said. At the high school level, students  may take courses in Drawing, Sculpture, Potters Wheel, Darkroom Photography, Crafts and Digital Graphics like Adobe Photoshop which "force students to apply unique and different critical thinking skills when making works of art and design."

Art teachers in the district follow a curriculum with specific goals and objectives so students learn skills in art-making and how to identify what makes a successful work of art, Eaton-Koch continued.

"In a society that increasingly uses images and visuals to communicate, it's essential for children and young adults to learn how to communicate visually in the 21st Century," he said.

Younger students can develop their interest by being encouraged to be creative at a very young age. He advises parents to let them tell you a story no matter what it is. 

"We want kids to experiment, feel comfortable, and try new things. The elementary school teachers do a very good job at this. In the Stamford school setting, the kids work with different materials to connect with what they're learning in class, for example, " the teacher said.

The main point he maintained to support a young child's creative ambitions is in allowing the stories to emerge from the child, not the other way around. "We want the kids to tell us the story, not always dictate the story to them, but bring something that's good from then from when they're very young," Eaton-Koch said.

By high school, the art curriculum leading up to that level has already taken future skills into account.

"It is extremely important for all public school students to create two- and three-dimensional artwork that communicates the message," Eaton-Koch said. "The Google and Amazons of the world are creating imagery, and visuals that are a primary route of communication. We have a curriculum and preparing our students to be visual and creative thinkers which we consider 21st-Century skills. They have to understand the process of communicating with images to the audience."

Each school had 40 submissions for last month's show. An opening event drew 75 people. The participants were students who have taken a series of art courses every year and were accepted into the Advance Placement Studio Art program. In the course, they can prepare a body of work that may be used for the college application process.

Advance Placement Studio Art students from the three high schools listed below won prizes at Silvermine.

Academy of Information Technology & Engineering:

  • 2nd place, Digital Black and White Photography, Nataliia Shcherbakova
  • 2nd place, Illustration, Nathan Yao
Stamford High School:
  • Best in Show, Graphite Pencil, Leah Swan
  • 2nd place, Colored Pencil, Diana Warzononkiewicz
  • 2nd place, Pottery, Ivana Nique
  • 1st place, Digital Photography, Richard Verbanic
Westhill High School:
  • 1st place, Photography, Faith Decamillo
  • 2nd place, Photography, Sophie Wint
  • 1st place, Charcoal, Anissa Askew
  • 1st place, Charcoal, Ashley Echegaray
  • 1st place, Charcoal, Angela Ramirez
  • 1st place, Sculpture, Jacquline Garcia and Yeison Vasquez
  • 2nd place, Pen and Ink, Kary-Ann McDowell