Painting a bigger picture: PV art department places third at state

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Anna Thorne

AP art student Raegan Stein has had a love for art her entire life, and in her classes at PV she has had the chance to portray her talents at a competitive level.

Anna Thorne, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The PV art department received a third place award in the recent All-State competition. This competition is hosted every year by the Art Educators of Iowa (AEI), a non-profit art organization affiliated with the National Art Education Association. 

To be included in this competition, each art student had to submit a personal statement, as well as a portfolio of 10 digital images of their work. As a team, the PV art department successfully ranked third in this competition.

PV art teacher Alexandria Medenciy has been a huge part of this process and has been influential in the progress of her students as well. She is very proud of all of the work her students have done, especially through a difficult and unpredictable year. 

This year has been tough on both students and teachers. A benefit to being in Hybrid allowed me to work individually and small groups more. Students were able to get to know their classmates more,” Medenciy explained. “The major downside though, was the quality of work. Some students would have their pieces sit for 6+ days, and they wouldn’t feel invested or even stay interested in it. After moving to every day, students really blossomed.”

Throughout these challenges Medenciy felt her students learned the value of hard work and also found some of their truest passions within this experience. 

Although students worked on their own individual projects, their end goal was to be judged as a team. This allowed for the students to work towards a common goal and eventually thrive off of expressing their innermost emotions through their artwork. 

Medenciy feels all of her students showed incredible drive and desire to succeed, but she has a significant connection to her senior students. When Medeincy became a teacher at PV, the current 2021 seniors were freshman entering the halls of PVHS. 

“The Senior Art Kids and I started our PVHS careers together. They were freshmen when I started here as a teacher, so we have really grown together,” Medenciy reflected. “I made them better artists, and they made me a better teacher. I will miss them dearly and am just so incredibly proud of them.”

Because of the time they have spent together and the difficulties they have faced, this success feels extra special for Medenciy and her students. Although she appreciates all of her students and their work, she has seen immense growth in some of her AP 3D kids. 

“Vanessa, Bailey, Laci, Raegan, and Myla, the AP 3D kids who submitted their work, have inspired me daily with their tenacity and drive. Not only can they make incredible work, but they have such great visual literacy,” Medenciy explained.  

“Having the ability to talk about issues such as living with a disability, personal trauma, and divorce is always hard, and to use their artwork as a vessel for these conversations and emotions is art making at its highest level,” Medenciy continued. “They have grown so much as humans and artists. 

This growth allowed for the art students to achieve success in the All-State competition, and Medenciy’s connection to her students made the achievement all-the more emotional for her. 

For individual students such as senior Raegan Stein, this accomplishment felt a little more personal. 

Stein has always enjoyed art, but it wasn’t until being at PVHS that she gained confidence to pursue it on a deeper level. Doubts held her back for a long time, but her involvement in the department decreased the significance of these inner doubts.

“I have been taking art classes since elementary school at Pleasant Valley but my true love for art was discovered this past year when I was invited to join the AP 3D class. I realized that art was more than just a hobby on the side, and now I stay in the art room for hours on end every day with my other classmates,” Stein said.

When she recognized the importance of art to her life, Stein made a point to be intentional with her work. Doing this allowed her to thrive and inevitably find motivation to put her best effort forward. 

“As a student in the AP 3D art class at the high school, we really are learning how to be judged as time goes on. My journey to be able to complete several pieces of art before the deadlines started with staying in the art room when no one was at the school,” Stein said. “I remember some days I would get to the art room after lunch, and not go home till about 5:30. This journey has been very tiring yet I know it will pay off in the end, and clearly it did.”

This increase in interest fueled her desire to succeed, and when she discovered she and her fellow classmates received a third place ranking at the state level, she knew their taxing work was nothing short of worth it. 

“When I found out that we had placed third I was extremely excited and surprised. Not surprised in a bad way, just so shocked that we did so well,” Stein reflected.

“I’m proud of my classmates and it excites me to have a picture of us hung up in the hallway for years to come. I can easily say I never knew those doodles I did in elementary school would lead me to where I am now,” Stein continued.

Although this year posed its challenges for Medenciy and her students, the success this journey has provided them was impactful. Medenciy fostered an environment of support and encouragement, and Stein and her classmates thrived and grew as a result.