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Campus student wins district art competition

Students from all around the San Joaquin Valley put their art skills to the test on April 24 at the 2003 Congressional Art Competition entitled An Artistic Discovery. Senior campus art student Sarah Damm’s painting of a wolf was the year’s first place work winning Best of Show.

As the first place winner, Damm’s work will be displayed for a year at the annual national exhibition in the Cannon Tunnel, a walkway leading to the United States Capitol building.

“Winning this award really surprised and excited me,” Damm said. “When they had finished calling the five finalists, I thought I did not win anything; I was shocked when they called my name as the Best of Show winner. While I was happy with the piece, I had no idea it was good enough to win the competition. It was a great honor and I praise God for the talent he gave me.”

Republican Congressman George Radanovich hosted the annual competition. Fifty high school students in his 19th Congressional District entered the competition from Fresno and Clovis areas as well as Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties.

“My inspiration for the pastel came from my boyfriend, Israel Cabrera [’03],” Damm said. “He really likes wolves and I wanted to draw one for him. After I got going, the piece seemed to flow and had really good balance and I was excited by the colors and the subject.”

Judges for the contest were chosen by the congressman and came from various regions included in his district.

“I felt that Sarah’s pastel demonstrated good composition and great balance,” Sharon Scharf, art teacher, said.

Damm’s winning artwork depicted a wolf in snow. It was done in pastel on sanded paper. According to Scharf, this drawing was Damm’s first experience working on sanded paper with pastels.

“Sarah tried many different drawing tools and found that she enjoyed working with pastels during her sophomore year,” Scharf said. “She has worked diligently at perfecting the medium, and received a set of pastel pencils for Christmas ? the ultimate tool for a pastel artist.”

While Cabrera like the painting, he was reluctant to let Damm enter it in the competition.

“I didn’t like it that she let Mrs. Scharf enter it into the competition,” Cabrera said. “And now while I am excited that she won and am proud of Sarah, I am disappointed that I will not get it back for at least a year.”

Students on campus seemed surprised at Damm’s award.

“I’ve known Sarah since kindergarten and she’s always had this talent,” Laura Wiens, ’03, said. “It’s really awesome that we get to watch her grow in her talent. It’s amazing that someone at our school won this competition.”

In grade school, Damm took private art lessons from Sandra Doerksen, a Fresno art teacher, and has been taking art class with Scharf since 7th grade.

“Mrs. Scharf has really helped me mature as an artist,” Damm said. “She has taught me how to use the tools of art and how to look at things. She has also encouraged me to try new things and helped me find my passion with pastels.”

Damm went on to say that pastels have become her favorite medium because they allow her to work more quickly yet she feels relaxed while using them.

“I think the bold colors of pastels make art exciting to look at and I feel released to be creative when using them,” Damm said.

Scharf submitted two other student entries for the competition: seniors Jamie Meadows and Jessica Boyko also attended the competition.

While one of last year’s entrants, Boyko received an honorable mention; Damm is the first campus student to win first place.

Scharf has taught art on campus for 14 years and has seen the program grow from one class to three.

“I strive to offer as many different artistic experiences as I can,” Scharf said. “Not everyone enjoys drawing or painting but given the many mediums that are available, most can find their nitch.”

Scharf continues to take college art classes to increase her own ability as a teacher and to explore different mediums.

Damm, who will attend Fresno Pacific University in the fall, does not plan on majoring in art, she said art will always be a part of her life and has become her passion. She does plan on taking art classes to expand her skills and may teach art and hopes to inspire other young artists.

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