Three ERHS seniors earn national awards for ceramics

Courtney Wirz, Austin Stevens and Eric Stevens are the first ERHS students to get national recognition in the scholastic arts competition. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

by Bruce Strand, Arts editor

Elk River ceramics artists Austin and Eric Stevens are among a select group whose works were chosen or a national art show after the senior twins received gold key awards for raku vases.

Meanwhile, senior Courtney Wirz received a silver key award for her raku vase.

Vase by Eric Stevens

The gold key works will be displayed at the 88th annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards show at the World Financial Center Courtyard Gallery in lower Manhatten from July 1-19.

Vase by Austin Stevens

Gold and silver key award winners are eligible to be honored at a special ceremony at Carnegie Hall on May 31.

“This is an exciting time for our art department, and Elk River High School,” said their teacher, Damien Husen. “Our art students have never received national medals before, and for Eric, Austin and Courtney to receive two golds and a silver is a great honor.”

There were over 1,400 entries at the state level, and 137 of those, roughly 10 percent, went on to be judged nationally.

“Of those 137 state winners, only 14 were awarded national medals, and ERHS art students got three of them,” said Husen. He added that Eric, Austin and Courtney were the only medalists from Minnesota to represent the Ceramics/Glass category.

Austin created a vase with a falling leaf design, while Eric concentrated on geometric shapes. Wirz made a vase similar to another she had admired with her own designs carved into it.

The Stevens brothers plan to major in mechanical engineering at Minnesota-Duluth and take some art classes. Wirz plans to major in law enforcement at Minnesota-Mankato.

Vase by Courtney Wirz

Regarding the New York invitation, the Stevens brothers said they will probably make the trip. Wirz said she probably wouldn’t as it’s very close to graduation.


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