Highland Center to Exhibit Student Wildlife Art

by David Kelley

GREENSBORO – On Thursday, Dec. 16, the Vermont Wildlife Education Fund announced the winners of its statewide “Give Wildlife A Voice” student art contest. The 40 top entries will be exhibited at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro in late January and then at the Vermont State House.

The contest idea came from a desire to celebrate Vermont’s wildlife species while giving students an incentive to explore or deepen their art skills in traditional forms. Claudia Mucklow, a Vermont Wildlife Coalition Board member, noted that the Coalition jumped at the chance to provide seed money for the Education Fund and the art competition. “With the increase in online learning keeping young people tied to their screens even more than usual, our Board thought it was important to take a step back from the digital world and celebrate the richness and diversity of wildlife in Vermont.”

According to Rob Mullen, one of the three nationally recognized wildlife artists who acted as the judges, “Judging was difficult due to the number and quality of the entries.” Entries were judged on a combination of composition, technical skill, creativity, originality, story, and unique focus on Vermont wildlife and wildlife habitat. “We’d like to congratulate all the students for a job well done. The future of wildlife art is in good hands in Vermont. I hope many Vermonters will get to see these wonderful pieces that our talented young artists have created. I wish we could have selected more. As an artist myself, who has been involved in many art competitions, I want to tell all the students who submitted to keep at it. Just keep creating and developing your own unique art.”

First place, a $1,000 prize, was awarded to Shakeh Hagopian, grade nine at Champlain Valley Union. Second place award, a $750 prize, was awarded to William Cunningham, grade seven at Mater Christi School. Third place, a $500 prize, was awarded to Aren Eisenman, grade ten at Champlain Valley Union and fourth-place, a $250 prize, was awarded to Molly Aeberhard, grade seven at The Riverside School. Six other cash prizes were awarded, together with 30 selections for exhibition.

The Vermont Wildlife Education Fund was created with support from the Vermont Wildlife Coalition, the I Have a Dream Scholarship Fund and the Highland Center for the Arts. This fall, over a dozen artists joined together at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro as “Artists Uniting for Wildlife” to raise money for the Education Fund. The artists included musicians David Mallett, Tish Hinojosa, the Mallett Brothers Trio. The painters included renowned wildlife artists and two Vermont-based artists who painted Lake Champlain while crewing on the “Artful Otter” sailboat this summer and fall.

Judges for this year’s contest included nationally recognized artists Adelaide Tyrol, who is also on the board of the Highland Center for the Arts, John Pitcher, and Rob Mullen, who also served as skipper of the Artful Otter and is chair of the Vermont Wildlife Coalition.

View images of the student artwork and find detailed information on the judges at vtwildlifecoalition.org/student-art-2021.For more information contact David Kelley at (802) 249 8262 or davidkelley05602@gmail.com.