(Posted Feb. 7, 2019)
By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer
The Art IV students at London High School buzzed and hummed when teacher Stacey Hallowes told them about this year’s Kurt Lattimer Aspiring Artist Award competition.
“We all had friends that submitted artwork the previous year, so we were really excited by the news,” said senior Meredith Hochstetler.
Then came the announcement that the theme for the event–“What do you dream of for the future?”–would be a prompt for an exam.
“It gave us nightmares,” said Hochstetler with a laugh.
In terms of her own ambitions, the 17-year-old said she wants to do and accomplish so much, which made answering the prompt a challenge.
“I thought it was really difficult to settle on one thing I wanted to do,” she said.
Her classmates had the same problem.
“It was actually really hard,” said 18-year-old Ashley Kaskosak.
Mick Harris, one of the competition’s founders, sheepishly admitted he thought it was simple.
“I thought it offered a lot of variation,” he said of the theme.
But London’s Art IV students and seniors participating from Tolles Career and Technical Center in Plain City came through and put their dreams on canvas.
“This is a most impressive group of talented artists,” said Lee Ann Justice, a member of the London Visual Arts Guild and one of four judges for the competition. “There is such a variety of art pieces and styles on display.”
In total, 30 seniors (19 from London High School and 11 from Tolles) submitted artwork for the competition and detailed their dreams in captions underneath. Some wrote about wanting to inspire girls to achieve their dreams, and others wrote of becoming loving parents. A few expressed their desire to heal others through medical careers, while some want to heal the Earth.
Justice said it was incredibly hard to narrow down the artwork into “the best.”
“We had a set of criteria to follow,” she said. “We studied their pieces for hours and debated about what we thought met the judging criteria the best. We knew they all put a lot of time and thought into their art, and we wanted to show them the same courtesy.”
Ultimately, the judges awarded the top prize, a $1,000 scholarship donated by Mick and Natalie Harris, to Hochstetler for her acrylic piece, “Bon Voyage.” Second place and a $250 scholarship funded by community donations went to Kaskosak for her colored pencil piece, “Elements of the Future.”
In Hochstetler’s piece, she sits on a Vespa, reading a map with luggage at her feet, in a vibrant European city. She said it was an homage to her dreams of traveling.
“I haven’t been able to do a lot of travelling so far,” she said. “I’ve never been abroad. I’ve mainly just travelled south of Ohio, but I would love to visit places all around the world to experience different cultures, see the different ways people live and experience a whole new set of things.”
Hochstetler said she would like to begin traveling when she is in college and after she graduates before settling down as a teacher for students with hearing impairments.
Kaskosak drew a rack of test tubes labelled with qualities she wants to obtain as she strives to become a scientific researcher.
“There is one tube with ‘Success,’ one with ‘Knowledge,’ one with ‘Progress,’ one with ‘Passion,’ and one with ‘Fear’ that I put a stopper on,” she explained. “Fear is there for the future, but I don’t want to let it stop me from achieving my goals.”
Each student who entered the competition received a one-year membership to the London Visual Arts Guild, through which they can showcase and sell their artwork at four events throughout the year. Their contest artwork is on exhibit at Gallery on High, 5 E. High St., London, through Feb. 24.
Kim Lattimer Reeder, whose late son, Kurt, was the inspiration for the contest and showcase, said she could not be prouder of the students who were willing to bear their vulnerabilities and put them on display for all to see. She said she hopes the community will come out to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and view their art.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to see what the youth in our community are doing and what they dream about,” she said.
Lattimer said she also hopes that next year will see even more students participate in the Kurt Lattimer Aspiring Artist Award competition, which saw numbers more the triple from their inaugural year in 2018.
“Who knows? Maybe we’ll have to move into the other room,” she said with a smile, referring to Studio 7, located next door to Gallery on High.
Gallery on High is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. For more information about the exhibit, visit the London Visual Arts Guild website at www.londonvisualartsguild.org.