Fri, Jan. 24

MUHS art program does well in Prescott
32 students qualify for fine arts portfolio competition

The art program at Mingus Union High School is getting bigger and better. Recently, 32 Mingus students qualified for the Prescott Fine Arts Portfolio Show.

That's impressive because to qualify for the show students must have a minimum of four pieces. Art teacher Tyler Novak says it is "quite a feat" because it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. One student, Reggie Breen, was able to enter the maximum of 12 pieces.

Mingus took $1,000 of the total $3,000 available in prize money. They were competing against more than 200 other art students, according to Novak. Out of the 32 qualifying Mingus students, nine entered works of ceramics and nine entered in the photography category. Novak said that is unprecedented, and he credits photography teacher Oouida Dorr for her students' success.

Novak said the success of the art department goes directly to the students. "I attribute it to having quite a few advanced art students returning," he said. "And I attribute it to some really dedicated ceramic students."

Novak said the program is showing the benefit of having younger kids becoming interesting in art. Also, the school art curriculum allows students to take advanced art more than once. "I get a lot of kids that will take advanced art two or three times," he said.

"The success we have here comes down to the fact that these kids own what they do," Novak said. He said the students come into class and internalize what they are doing. "They care. They have a very personal interest in what they do."

Out of a possible 30 winning slots, Mingus students had nine winners. Junior Felicia Jensen took second for painting, and senior Nathan Wells also won a second place for his drawing and painting.

Mingus also had three third-place winners: Luke Hammond, senior, for ceramic sculpture; Rachael Greer, sophomore, for drawing and painting; and Nicole Jurisin, junior, for ceramic sculpture.

Fourth-place winners for Mingus included, Lauren McFarlin, junior, for drawing and painting; Amy Helfrich, senior, for watercolor painting; Ben Stevenson, junior, for painting and drawing; and Andrew Ellison, sophomore, for functional and sculptural ceramics.

Novak said he is frequently complimented by his colleagues from other schools on the quality of the Mingus students' work and on their thoughtfulness.

"I get kids producing works of art that are fantastic," Novak said. "I put all the credit on the kids."

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