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Iowa City student awarded Grant Wood Legacy Prize
Award identifies and uplifts young artists
IOWA CITY — Three Iowa high school students have been recognized for their talent and voice through the Grant Wood Legacy Prize from the University of Iowa’s Grant Wood Art Colony.
This year’s winners are Charlotte Littlemoon, a senior at Iowa City High School; Tanya Rastogi, a sophomore at Pleasant Valley High School in Riverdale; and Samantha Bussanmas, a junior at Norwalk High School in Norwalk.
The Grant Wood Art Colony is committed to continuing the legacy of the famous artist, as well as promoting Wood’s passion for education and developing young artists.
The art colony established the legacy prize in 2016 in honor of the Iowa artist most noted for painting “American Gothic.” The award aims to identify and uplift young artists, as well as recognize their educators.
“A huge portion of (Wood’s) life was dedicated to teaching, including from the beginning of his career at McKinley (in Cedar Rapids) to the end of his career at the University of Iowa,” Maura Pilcher, Grant Wood Art Colony director, said. “We really wanted to make sure that since he valued that training of the next generation of students so much, that we would continue that on.”
Current art colony fellows Michael Dixon and Johanna Winters selected the three students as winners for their demonstration of a regional voice and skill.
The judges had more than 400 entries to choose from. Students submitted work in painting, drawing, jewelry, printmaking, design, ceramics and glass, and mixed media.
The judges don’t know details about the artists, such as age, gender, names or location, when they are reviewing the submissions, Pilcher said.
“It is purely based off of their work,” Pilcher noted, adding that it is also important for the artist’s voice to be reflected in their work.
What stood out to Dixon were technical skills and how well the image was made, as well as conceptual ideas that come through in the work. The judges also gave consideration to having a diversity of media represented, Dixon said.
Winters added that her selections were based on a balance between attention to detail and craft, along with the strength of the concept. Winters was drawn to these three selections “because of the way the artists address ideas of social/personal identity or self.”
“(The fellows) know exactly what's going on in the art scene right now, and if they see these student artists doing this type of work that they can see having so much potential in, I think that is a huge honor,” Pilcher said.
The Grant Wood Legacy Prize is a collaboration with the UI’s Belin-Blank Center, which serves as the Iowa and Midwest Region-at-Large affiliate for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.
The winners were recognized during a celebration video on March 4.
Pilcher said the award is an “extra boost of support” for the students. It’s a way for the students to get recognized both for their talent and for their voice, as well as demonstrate that this is a potential career path for them.
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