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Students exhibit excellence

More than 100 people — many of them teenagers — piled into the Suffolk Museum Thursday to kick off the Exhibit of Excellence.

Featuring 136 works from 94 sophomores, juniors and seniors from Suffolk’s four high schools, the show provides the opportunity for budding artists to exhibit their work, many for the first time.

“This exhibit provides these high school students the opportunity to participate in a juried exhibition, culminating in a wonderful display of work by our very talented students,” said Linda Bunch, executive director of the Suffolk Art League. “It is an honor for the students just to be selected for the exhibition.”

The 272 works entered were whittled down to 136 by juror Betty Lockhart Anglin, a fine arts professor at Christopher Newport University. Anglin selected first-, second- and third-place winners, five honorable mentions and three juror’s choice awards.

First-place winner Lauren Gersbach, a senior at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, was selected for the top award for her acrylic paintings “Egg” and “Click.” The paintings, done in the style of Roy Lichtenstein, feature an egg sizzling in a frying pan and a girl clicking her pen while reading.

“I like to put sound in my paintings,” Gersbach said, noting that Lichtenstein is “one of my favorite artists.”

Anglin said that “Lauren Gersbach’s paintings exhibit her knowledge of Lichtenstein’s work, yet she has expressed her own feelings in terms of the Master. My congratulations to her for original ideas in a familiar cover.”

Second-place honors went to Lakeland High School student Kayla Skilbred for her sculpture “Hidden Interface.”

“It is worthy of being a large form which would enhance a metropolitan space,” Anglin said of Skilbred’s work.

Skilbred constructed the sculpture using a wood block for a base and using coat hangers to create the shape. She then stretched material over the hangers and painted it black and silver — then changed her mind and made it gold.

“I like how it looks kind of plain,” Skilbred said. She named it “Hidden Interface” because “all the stuff to make it is hidden,” she said.

King’s Fork High School student Megan Sergeant took third place in the exhibit for her mixed-media painting “Violet.”

“I’m really into a lot of independent women,” Sergeant said. “I wanted to show people you can be beautiful, and you don’t have to rely on a guy.”

Sergeant’s painting depicts a female form, with texture added using papier-mache, wire, beads and a feather butterfly on the woman’s hand.

Anglin said Sergeant’s painting “offers her viewers many diverse textures that invite closer examination of an enchanting figure.”

Honorable mention awards were given to Taylor Brookings (Nansemond River High School) for her sculpture “What Have I Become…?”; Rachel Chung (Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) for her marker work “Sew the Line”; Alyssa Grigg (Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) for her silver gelatin print “Bottle Pop”; Gary Kafer (Nansemond-Suffolk Academy) for his charcoal drawing “Carotid”; and Andi Russo (Kings Fork High School) for the digital print “Pause.”

Juror’s choice awards went to Ciara Viola (Nansemond-Suffolk Academy), Kristen Wilson (Lakeland High School) and Shanika Wray (Nansemond River High School).

The Exhibit of Excellence will be on display through Feb. 28 at the Suffolk Museum, 118 Bosley Ave. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 925-0448 or 514-7284.