Alex Webb shows off her first-place ribbon in the 2013 Suffolk Exhibit of Excellence for her graphite pencil rendition of Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali. The exhibit is on display through March 1.

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Inspired student art displayed

Published 10:07pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Inspiration came from different places for the winners of the Suffolk Art League’s annual Exhibit of Excellence, which displays the best art from sophomores, juniors and seniors in Suffolk high schools, both public and private.

First-place winner Alex Webb says much of her art is inspired by Salvador Dali. Her winning work was more than just inspired by the Spanish surrealist painter, though — she used graphite pencil to make her own rendition of a famous photo of him.

Not only did the completed drawing earn the King’s Fork High School senior the first-place award, but she may hold the record in this particular show for the work of art finished in the least amount of time.

“I finished it in about two hours,” she said. “It’s a hobby. I don’t want to make a career out of it, because the art world is very competitive.”

Alicia Johnson, Webb’s art teacher, said the speed and ability come naturally to her.

“She’s incredibly talented,” Johnson said. “She always has her sketchbook out.”

For second-place winner Daniel Hotte, a junior from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, inspiration came when he was sitting on his family’s porch one day last summer. The sky looked beautiful through his blue-tinted sunglasses, so he took them off, walked out into the yard, held them up with the sun and clouds in the background, and shot a photo of them.

“I thought it looked cool,” he said, adding that he prefers drawing to photography and was surprised to win for a photo. “I’ve never submitted a photo before.”

Third-place winner Stephen Dvorak of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy was inspired to use acrylic and spray paint for a depiction of a face looking into what appears to be outer space. He said he made a stencil for the face, which is done in acrylic, and the rest is spray paint.

Students who entered were required to submit two works, which gave juror Anne Corso, director of education at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, a starting pool of 272 works.

From those, she picked 109 that represent 89 artists, then picked first through third places, five honorable mentions and two judge’s choices.

“I strived to include work where students developed their own viewpoints and artistic voices while honoring the parameters of their given assignment,” Corso wrote in her juror’s statement. “The 109 works of art that comprise this exhibition are diverse in media and in spirit. They find inspiration in a variety of sources from art history to pop culture and anime to contemporary politics.”

Johnson said the Exhibit of Excellence gives most students their first opportunity to be in an art show. For many, it’s also the first art show they’ve visited.

“This is a good opportunity for them to come to an art show,” she said.

Dana Adams, exhibits chair and governance chair with the Suffolk Art League, said she is proud of the quality of the show.

“There is excellent work in different mediums and different styles,” she said. “It’s an exciting show.”

Honorable mention winners were Meaghan Davis of King’s Fork High School and Taylor Berard, Janet Ehmer, Louis Jones and Sydney Rittenhouse, all of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

The judge’s choice winners were Kana Coleman of Lakeland High School and Jaelin Smith of Nansemond River High School.

The Suffolk Art Gallery, located at 118 Bosley Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Exhibit of Excellence will be on display through March 1. Call 925-0448 for more information on the exhibit.

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