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Art Shows: Pathway to a Working Artist

Art Shows: Pathway to a Working Artist

By Brad Bosler 

            Eight students from H.B. du Pont Middle School won awards at the 2016 Delaware Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  Some won Gold and Silver. Others won Honorable Mentions. However, according to their teacher and sponsor, Collene Zufelt, they all walked away with something for their future: experience. 

            Ms. Zufelt has worked as H.B.’s art teacher for 8 years and has been teaching in schools since 1996.  Outside of her job as an art teacher, Collen is professional artist.  Her works are sold, and her pieces are regularly shown in competitions around the region.  Recently, she showed her works in the Brandywine Arts Festival.  Along with having some of her current work in the Station Galley in Greenville, she also makes corporate gifts; her most recent was for the Dansko Shoe Company.

            While Ms. Zufelt is a professional artist, she prefers to use the term “Artist Educator” to describe her life’s occupation.  “I am a professional artist. But my role as an art teacher is to show my students’ work at competitions.”  She sees her job as a coach pushing students to show their work in juried competitions. The 2016 Delaware Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards were judged by state and local professors and artists. Out of 1,439 entries in the Middle School Division this year, sixteen of her students’ pieces won awards.

            Awards and recognition are not merely prizes. The accolades increase the value of artists’ work and highlight their skills for the job market. Ms. Zufelt tells her students, “The time to start your art resume is now.  You can now say that you won a gold or silver medal in a regional, juried art competition.”  She describes art competitions as opportunities.  They are motivators for creativity, a reason to create work.  Because pieces are judged on skill, voice, vision, students invest themselves in their hard work. At competitions, their hard work is reward with recognition, something they can highlight on their applications for choice high schools, and later, for college.   “I did not get that opportunity until I was a senior in college!”

            While the students create art under her guidance, the pathway to a professional artist is more than just the production of works.  Their art is their future.  In competitions, the students are displaying their talents and selling themselves. For her students, “artist” is a potential profession.

            As she discussed the students and their awards from the 2016 Delaware Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, she used words like phenomenal and unbelievably talented. Many of her students’ works can be seen throughout the school- in the halls, in the main office, and in the library.  Currently, her students are creating a mural for the entrance to the cafeteria.

            “Art is a beautiful way to tie the standards together. Art allows students to make something that is unique to them. It’s an outlet for their creativity. There are no right answers.”

            Putting teaching philosophy aside, when asked about how our students did overall in the 2016 Delaware Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, she exclaimed, “We rocked ceramics.  I have one student who throws as well as I do, and I am a professional artist!  His talent at throwing and his vision…Wow!” She does not feel she is in competition with him, though.   She sees her role as one who moves students closer to their goals.

            She stated clearly, “I don’t want this article to be about me,” yet without her, students would probably not be as exposed art competitions or pushed to participate so young.

            Here is a list of the students who recently won awards at the 2016 Delaware Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition:

  • Sam Coffey, 7th grade: Gold Key in Printmaking, Honorable Mention for Architecture Design
  • Ainsley Fischer, 8th grade: Gold Key in Printmaking, Silver in Ceramics, Silver in Sculpture, and Honorable Mention in Sculpture
  • Chase Haywood, 8th grade: Gold Key in Ceramics
  • Cynai Jaynes, 8th grade: Gold Key and Silver in Ceramics
  • Keira Bowchow, 8th grade: Silver and Honorable Mention in Ceramics
  • Elena Rice, 8th grade: Honorable Mention in Ceramics
  • Samantha Uy, 8th grade: Gold Key and Silver in Ceramics
  • Suneil Harzenski, 9th grader in Charter sponsored by Ms. Zufelt, Silver and Honorable Mention in Ceramics (Last year he won two Gold Keys and three Silvers in Ceramics.) 

            All Gold Key winners will compete nationally in New York City. National winners will be announced in March.  Those students can now say they have had their pieced judged in a juried competition, won an award, and have gone on to compete in a regional art competition.  Who knows? Maybe these early awards will be the first accomplishments listed on the resume of future “working artists.”


Art Awards