Alex Phantavong started sketching as soon as he was old enough to hold a pencil. Today, his edgy pen-and-ink work hangs on the wall of his hometown art gallery.
"I've been drawing since I was really little," the Storm Lake High School junior says. "Creating something with my hands has always appealed to me - just being able to pull something out of my imagination and to put it down and share it."
Inspired by the anime and manga animation--based art styles that originated in Japan, Alex's stark images jump off the wall, the eyes of his characters riviting passers-by. His grouping is one of many highlights in the Storm Lake High School Scholastic Art Awards Show at the Witter Gallery in Storm Lake, open to the public this month at the gallery located in the public library complex.
The show includes paintings and drawings from portraits to landscapes, photography, graphic arts, sculptural ceramics.
Don't be suprised if you see more of his art one day. "I would like to create my own comic book, or maybe do into a career in design," Alex says.
SLHS has developed a reputation for visual arts, and the young artist appreciates the resources he finds in his school. "The school and the teachers are pretty supportive," he says.
Not only that - the diverse population of artistically-inclined teenagers tends to push all to explore and perfect their techniques.
"We stick together, motivate each other to be better, support each other, share ideas. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's work come together in this show," Alex says.
The show was juried and Gold Key Awards were announce at an Awards Ceremony last night. Professor Maureen Seamonds, from Iowa Central Community College, judged the entries. Seven Gold Key Portfolios and 55 individual Gold Key Awards were selected from the 200 art works produced by 61 young artists. All Gold Key Awards will advance in digital form to the Regional Division in Iowa City later this month.
This students' work will be up at the Witter Gallery through January 31, and can be viewed during Witter regular hours. Admission is free.
The competition aspect of the annual show helps to draw the best from the teenage artists.
In the Portfolio Division, each senior produces eight works, takes digital slides, fills out appropriate forms and writes an Artistís Statement. Out of thirteen seniors who entered, six seniors were awarded seven Gold Key Portfolios they are: Cindy Barahona, Art Portfolio; Zac Friesen, Art Portfolio; Nicole Nee, Art Portfolio and Photography Portfolio; Haley Owens, Photography Portfolio; Eduardo Rios, Art Portfolio and Krisondra Snedeker, Art Portfolio. These students received Silver Portfolio Awards: Gerardo Flores, Jessica Mikel and Natasha Sierra and an Honorable Mention Portfolio Award went to Alex Takhien.
Individual Gold Key Awards were given to the top 55 art pieces in the show across categories. These came from 31 students. A notable recipient was senior Zac Friesen who received four Gold Key Awards in Drawing and a Gold Art Portfolio. Also Nicole Nee received three Gold Key Awards in Drawing and a Gold Art Portfolio and a Gold Photography Portfolio.
The Scholastic Art Awards Competition is the nation's longest-running, largest, most prestigious recognition program for creative teenagers in the visual and literary arts. Storm Lake High has been involved for at least 20 years.
"It gives students a chance to use their art abilities to compete for scholarships, as well as to develop skills and vision for college and careers in the arts," said Ron Netten, veteran art instructor at the high school. This year he is joined on staff by young Buena Vista University graduate, Jess Huss.