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Shelby Junior High artist earns top national honor

SculptureAddison Oleksinski has loved art from the time she could pick up a pencil.

Fast track a few years forward, and this love of art has only continued to grow to the point that she is one of the youngest students to earn national scholastic honors and a trip to Carnegie Hall next month.

Her ceramic sculpture – called Skinned - received a National Gold Medal through this year’s Scholastic Art and Writing Awards after earning top honors at a regional competition. The piece has been added to Scholastic's online gallery and Oleksinski has been invited to participate in the national ceremony in June at Carnegie Hall.  

“I am surprised and am proud that others think I am good at this,” she said. “This is open to any student in America, and I thought it was really cool that I was a freshmen and I won the award.”

“Any junior high student entering artwork into Scholastic is essentially competing against juniors and seniors in high school,” said Shelby Junior High School art teacher Christopher Brunson.  “So, getting the initial acceptance into the regional Scholastic Art awards is difficult enough, making it to national adjudication and winning a National Gold Medal is a monumental accomplishment."

The sculpture is a 1 ½ foot tall, 20 lb. human bust that took nearly four months to complete, including countless hours during and after the school day to complete, he said.

The idea originated in conversations between Brunson and Oleksinski and features a person in anguish who is tearing part of their face away.

“It shows someone who has really felt the harsh realities of the world and feels that the only action they can take to truly escape and be free of it all is to rip off their own skin,” she said.

While still three years away from graduation, Oleksinski said she plans to attend a creative college after graduation to pursue a career in art.

“I like to express myself through a hands-on craft,” she said. “I think it is fun to create this thing from scratch and see how it comes together.”