Artists win Best in Show
Posted on: May 14, 2018
Delano artists had a strong collective showing at the Minnesota State High School League Art Festival in Chaska earlier this month, and two individuals came away with Best in Show honors.
Ninth-graders Ana Blomquist and Magdalena Schaffer took top honors in Digital Photography and Sculpting, respectively, meaning their pieces were displayed at the Perpich Center on Saturday, May 5.
In addition, out of 18 total entries DHS artists earned eight “Superior” ratings and six “Excellent” ratings.
“Students receive Excellent and Superior scores based not only on their art but also their artist statements. Artist statements often explain deeper meaning or the things (external and internal) that lead the artist to create their original artwork,” said DHS art instructor Ray Cordes, explaining that more complex compositions or unique designs tend to score higher.
Judges at Chaska and other festivals are generally established artists and even college professors who are able to give constructive feedback and help all participating students improve.
Blomquist’s arresting photo shows a pair of children under a dining room table gazing apprehensively upward. The older child appears to be quieting a baby.
“The project was Directorial Mode. It’s supposed to look like a still from a movie,” said Blomquist. “It’s supposed to provoke thought. You’re supposed to be able to look at it and think of a storyline. I saw pictures that were very similar to it that kind of inspired me, but none had any small kids in them, so I thought it would be cool to implement that to pull at your heart strings a little bit.”
Blomquist laughed while recalling the difficulty she had in staging the shot using two of her younger siblings as subjects. Her sister couldn’t keep a straight face and her young brother was alternately smiling or crying.
“So I had my other sister go around this corner and kind of fake like she was yelling at them. It was a bad method, I suppose, but it worked,” she said.
Blomquist said she didn’t have much background in art, and this has been her first year doing digital photography.
“I’ve never really been into photography before, but now I definitely am,” she said. “I’ll see things and run inside real quick and grab my camera to take pictures. It has definitely become a hobby of mine. It’s really fun and I enjoy it.”
While she enjoys other art forms as well, Blomquist said she has no particular skill in areas like drawing or painting.
“But I guess art is subjective, so good is different to everyone,” she said.
As for why photography interests her, Blomquist said the story behind the moment is compelling.
“I like pictures that make me think rather than something that is traditionally beautiful, like a flower,” she said. “That just doesn’t engage me in quite the same way.”
Blomquist is the daughter of Daniel and Kristin Blomquist of Loretto.
Schaffer stood out in the Sculpting category for creating a figure inside a coffin, both made with steel. The project involved welding, cutting, drilling, grinding and engraving. She has dabbled in various forms of art, but said creating three-dimensional items that can be worked on over time are her favorite.
“When I do these flat things on paper it tends to just sit around and collect dust. It’s pointless. Then I feel bad about it because nothing is happening with it,” she said. “But when you make something that’s 3D, even if it’s just on a piece of wood, it’s not flat, it’s not forgettable, it’s not easy to throw away.”
Schaffer comes from an artistic family and appreciates the skill of her dad and sister in particular, but said that for her art is a way to focus her mind.
“It’s a way of escaping. A way of forgetting the world exists for a moment,” she said.
While her project caught the eye of the judges in Chaska, Schaeffer did not have much experience working with metal. She had learned how to weld during the previous quarter, and shop class instructor Joe Finn provided aid with unfamiliar tools and machines.
“Prior to taking the Intro to Metals class I had never done anything like this before,” said Schaffer. “I had no idea I was going to win, because originally when I started I had no idea it was art.”
In earlier years Schaffer has advanced in art competitions through the county fair, but the opportunity to present one of her pieces at the Perpich Center was a thrill.
“I’ve never been there, but just the idea that it would be displayed somewhere that big, that really excited me,” Schaffer said.
She is the daughter of Rick and Brenda Schaffer of Delano.