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GHS student receives national art award

Gilford High School senior Katie Laurent’s photography received national recognition this past month, sending her all the way to Carnegie Hall for an awards ceremony. (Courtesy) (click for larger version)
April 06, 2011
An optional summer assignment turned into a competitive art submission for Gilford High School senior Katie Laurent, who recently received a National Silver Key Award on behalf of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition.

This 88-year-old national program aims to recognize outstanding and creative teenagers, and also offers scholarship opportunities to graduating seniors. This year, Laurent will have the pleasure of joining hundreds of other young, nationally recognized artists and writers at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

GHS art teacher Judy Klubben offered up an optional assignment to her incoming photography students this past summer, and Laurent took advantage of this opportunity. While she had planned to take her photo shoot in another direction, she was pleasantly surprised by the final results.

"Last year, I gave an assignment to incoming seniors. It was an optional assignment, and Katie went for it. She ended up receiving the Scholastic Art Award, and then the National Scholastic Award," said Klubben.

Gilford High School senior Katie Laurent stands with her winning photograph, which received a Gold Key Award at a state level, and most recently, a Silver Key Award at a national level. (Courtesy) (click for larger version)
A couple of friends helped Laurent set the mood for an eerie photo shoot in a graveyard on an ironically sunny day. Before adding to her summer portfolio, Laurent decided to follow the theme of "fear." While she had intended to focus on one theme, her work took on a life of its own when she snapped a slightly impromptu photo of her friend napping on the grass with her floral print dress, scarf, and a black and white photo of her grandmother as a child in hand.

"My inspiration came when I was working on my summer portfolio with two friends. This final photo did not follow the theme, but came out the best," said Laurent. "My friend is holding an actual picture of her grandma. I didn't really think about the shot until I realized it came out well."

In the state competition, she had originally received a Gold Key Award, and then automatically entered into the national level, where she received a Silver Key Award.

"I didn't expect to receive an award at a national level, since this level is very competitive and I entered a simple photo," said Laurent.

When trying to come up with a title for her photo, she thought of the word "origins."

"When I look at this photo, I think of ancestors, where you came from and how connected you are to your family," said Laurent, who has taken various other photography and art classes at GHS. "It's a hobby for me more so than a career path, but I am interested in pursuing it on the side. I also enjoy drawing and painting."

She feels this particular photo also stands out since much of her photography focuses on manmade objects, rather than an actual person. Since Laurent is interested in ancestry, it is no surprise that her own grandmother is the inspiration for her artistic side.

"I get most of my talent from my grandma, who was a painter. She is self-taught. I used to watch her paint landscapes," said Laurent.

She certainly has an artsy side, but plans to study psychology in college, and eventually enter a pre-med program.

Laurent is secretary of the National Honor Society, Student Council, and President of the French Club. She has also danced for the past 15 years.

The annual awards competition is open to all students grade 7-12 who submit works of art and writing for regional adjudication by a panel of local jurors. These jurors are comprised of artists, educators, and other related professionals. Art and literature submissions are judged on originality, technical skills, and an emergence of a personal vision or voice.

Since 1923, Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have recognized more than 13 million students and provided more than $25 million in scholarship funds. This continues to be the longest running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens, and also the largest source of scholarships for young artists and writers.

The nonprofit Alliance for Young Writers will honor national winners at the world famous Carnegie Hall in New York City at the end of May. Select award-winning art and writing will be exhibited at the World Financial Center Courtyard gallery in Lower Manhattan from June 1 – 19.

Mayor Bloomberg has also declared May 31 to be the official Scholastic and Writing Awards Day and the top of the Empire State Building, which will be lit in gold in honor of these creative students.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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