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Holladay Journal

Students create four-hour masterpieces at Art Olympics

Mar 29, 2022 09:11PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Junior Diana Vo works on her Art Olympics entry about the “chaotic feelings around love.” (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Granite School District’s annual Art Olympics was March 16 at Olympus High. Students from eight GSD high schools had four hours to create a work of art. Winners were awarded by category at the end of the evening.

“It’s like a track meet for art—these are marathon skills. I think they learn persistence,” said Taylorsville art teacher Nicole Lavely. She and fellow Taylorsville art teacher Kelly Mouton were there to cheer on 11 students competing from their school.

“Each school has a certain number of kids we can invite to participate. They choose what they want to make and practice ahead of time. They bring all the supplies they’ll need. The kids surprise themselves at what they can create,” Lavely said.

Students sat at tables in Olympus’ commons area, grouped by the type of art they had chosen to create: sculpture, drawing or painting. Junior Diana Vo of Taylorsville worked on her drawing at the Concept Art table.

“I came up with this idea around Valentine’s Day,” she said of her work in progress, the animated face of a young woman, with swirling pink and purple curls. The colors were warm and inviting, but the subject had tears in her eyes.

“It’s about the chaotic feeling around love. There’s the excitement of falling in love, those are the colors. There are the bubbles. But the bubbles burst—you can get your heart broken,” Vo said. 

Teacher Trevor Wright of Cyprus High brought 11 students to compete. “Just being in a room with other artists and seeing them create helps these students. There’s a lot of creative energy here. If you are here, you are the best from your school,” Wright said.

Wright said the event is a confidence builder. “Being able to make something in four hours? That’s hard.”

In addition to the work they created, all students could bring three to five pieces to display in a small gallery set up by the hosting school. 

Olympus student Liam Kimball set up his work just outside the commons area—a side-by-side panel of spray-painted skulls on a black background. “The skulls are mirror images of each other, but one is green and one is red. It’s my take on good and evil,” Kimball said.

Kimball’s work was freehand, including some intricate silver latticework up on the skulls. Near the bottom, he chose to let the paint run down from the teeth he outlined in black spray paint.

The event was run by GSD’s Noemi Hernández-Balcázar, a multi-awardwinning leader in the education arts community. Hernández-Balcázar is the district’s arts coordinator. She also set up a table with supplies for students to make art for children in Ukraine.

Awards were handed out at the end of the evening. Each high school was recognized at least once with a win. But Lavely and the other teachers insist that this night isn’t about the awards.

“I talk to students years later and they say this was their favorite event. It ignites a fire in them. Artists are funny—we feel like we should be creative by ourselves. But when we get in a group, there is an energy that happens,” Lavely said. “The students surprise themselves.”