MCS fashions a victory at the Olympics of Visual Arts
By Brian Sweeney
Margaretville students brought home the gold from the Olympics of the Visual Arts (OVA) competition held April 10 at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Team members included: HS team is Katlynn Shamro, Bianca Molnar, Courtney Scheffler, Mary Greene, Sage Finkle, Kaylee Sanford and Kayla Laise. Art teacher Michele Dietz was the team’s advisor.
The MCS students came out on top in a category that had 18 entrants. Ms. Dietz noted that Fashion Design is always the most competitive category at the annual OVA event.
Ms. Dietz explained that OVA provides an opportunity for students to participate in individual or group artistic problem solving. A new series of problems is posed every fall and students create long-range solutions at their schools. After months of work on the project, the students travel to the Saratoga area to compete on short-range problems in a day-long celebration of creativity.
For the Fashion Design category, students are required to create a wearable garment solely out of paper products that meets the criteria of a “problem” they are given in the fall. This year’s theme was big, bold, colorful pattern and students were told to look to art history for inspiration.
“I spent days after school with my high school and middle school group looking through gigantic art history books. We hit the books, literally, they were reading and I was on hand to clarify and explain,” noted Ms. Dietz, commenting on how the students began the early phases of the competition.
She added, “My high school team was really into an early 20th century art movement called Art Nouveau. It’s interesting because Art Nouveau really isn’t comprised of art in the traditional sense — it encompasses architecture, furniture design, jewelry design, arts and crafts- more than just paintings on canvas. Tiffany lamps and Tiffany jewelry are prime examples of Art Nouveau pieces. It’s all about dramatic whiplash curves and whimsy patterns, very elegant and pretty.”
The team utilized this period as the inspiration for its winning entry.
Jen Wentland, who also teaches art at MCS, coached two teams in the competition. Her squads didn’t bring home any prizes, but they enjoyed the competition and were inspired by their schoolmates’ victory.
Ms. Wentland commented, “It was another amazing year at OVA. We are one of the smallest schools competing against huge high schools. It is amazing to see that our students’ creativity and hard work holds up to these larger districts — and in Michele’s case — beats them!”
Students competing under Ms. Wentland’s direction were drawing team members Alana Moskowitz, Itahy Silva and Issis Orrego. The painting team included Rhiannon Kearns and Lindsay Day.
Kindred artistic spirits
Last spring, Roxbury teacher Mary MacNaught saw news coverage of Margaretville Central School students’ journey to Olympics of the Visual Arts (OVA). After a large fund-raiser held in August in memory of her daughter, Michelle MacNaught, she wanted to help fund the Olympics experience at Margaretville.
After Mary generously made a contribution to the MCS project with proceeds from the Michelle MacNaught Fund, Ms. Wentland wrote a grant to the O’Connor Foundation seeking a matching grant to help defray the cost of the competition. The grant was approved.
“These funds help our teams get the materials that they need to do these massive projects,” Ms. Wentland explained.
Always an artist
Michelle MacNaught was an artist who battled cancer for many years. She passed away in November 2011 at the age of 21. Her artwork included many styles, but she was most well-known for the woodcuts that show her experience and emotions as she battled cancer.
“Michelle was a beautiful girl and touched the lives many people, including area artists who helped fund-raise money for local arts ventures,” recalled Ms. Wentland. “This is what Michelle would have wanted.”
Wants to help others
Since her daughter passed away, Mary has been busy funding local arts ventures and creating scholarships for seniors who are going to school in the arts.
“What is interesting is that when Mary came to see the projects in the works she was struck with emotion because Michelle loved peacocks and Michele Dietz’s (the other MCS art teacher who coordinates the competition) winning team’s dress has two beautiful peacocks on it,” Ms. Wentland noted.
“A lot of the schools that compete have many resources and it is difficult to compete with that. This funding has certainly helped us and will continue to help us next year,” she added.