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Five CCHS artists earn prestigious recognition

Five CCHS artists earn prestigious recognition
Five CCHS artists earn prestigious recognition
By James Grob,

Five artists at Charles City High School were recognized for their work this week as the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa announced regional award recipients of the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

CCHS students honored were:

• Cael Bohlen, grade 11, ceramics and glass, “Texture Autumn,” honorable mention; “Texture Plum,” Silver Key.

• Deven Ignacio-Castillo, grade 11, photography, “The View,” Gold Key.

• Carter Johnston, grade 12, photography, “Abandoned,” Gold Key.

• Brinn Lahr, grade 11, Ppainting, “Everyday Storm,” honorable mention; “Oil Spill,” Silver Key.

• JJ Ritter, grade 12, photography, “Dugout,” Silver Key.

Gold Keys are awarded to the top 5-7% of all entries, Silver Keys are awarded to the top 7-10% of all entries, and honorable mention is awarded to the top 10-15% of all entries.

Seven CCHS students entered artwork in the competition, and five students earned awards. Of the 14 total pieces CCHS entered, seven received awards. This is the third year CCHS has entered the competition, and students have earned awards every year.

CCHS art teacher Tia McInroy said only the very best artists earn awards through Scholastic, as it is very competitive.

“Mr. (Brian) Bohlen and I are very proud of these students,” McInroy said. “They work hard every day, aren’t afraid to take chances and explore new techniques, and are great role models for their peers. I am continually surprised and impressed by what my students can do.”

The University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development serves as the Iowa Multi-State Art Regional Affiliate for the Scholastic Art Awards. Students who earn Gold Keys in this region automatically advance to national judging.

The award winners are invited to a virtual awards celebration on Sunday, March 7, honoring all of the region’s Scholastic award winners. A digital gallery of award winners will also be available then.

Cael Bohlen created his ceramics for an independent studio art class with Brian Bohlen, Lahr created her paintings for an AP art and design class with McInroy, and Ignacio-Castillo, Johnston and Ritter took their photographs during a digital design class with McInroy.

“I have been working with film photography for a little over a year now,” Johnston said. “I was very proud and excited when I found out that I had received a Gold Key.”

Ritter said he was surprised to receive a national award that put him in the top 10% of entrants.

“We had a photography unit in my Digital Design class last semester and that’s when I took it,” he said. “It didn’t take much time to actually take the photo or edit it.”

Ignacio-Castillo said he has been working with photography for about five months.

“I was shocked when I learned I had earned an award, especially to have gotten the Gold Key award for a photo that was taken in my backyard,” he said.

Lahr’s two award-winning paintings are abstract art, a genre she just started working with this school year.

“I was very surprised and grateful that I got the chance to experience this great opportunity,” she said.

Presented by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the country’s longest-running, largest and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative students in grades 7–12.

Over the past 95 years, the awards have recognized and encouraged artists and writers such as Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Robert Redford, Tom Otterness, and Zac Posen, among many other well-recognized artists.