Celebrating young artists: McHenry County College hosts show for local high schoolers

McHenry County College hosts show for local high schoolers

More than 250 pieces of art from area high school students were recently on display at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake for the Fox Valley Conference Art Show. Students and their families were invited to an awards ceremony April 13 to recognize their hard work and showcase their achievements.

"The high school art teachers set up parameters for submission and choose a body of work to represent their school," said Judd Shutt, an art teacher at Crystal Lake Central High School who helped organized the event. "After the school selects and hangs their school's work at MCC, it is juried for the Best of Show awards."

The show is a valuable opportunity for students to exhibit their work at a college level.

"Learning to prepare work for public display is an important part of the art-making process," said Shutt. "Artists who are chosen for the showcase are also asked to write an artist statement for the public to read. Some schools even have students mat their own work and get it ready to hang."

The jurors, who included MCC art instructors Matt Irie, Justin Schmitz, and Tom Vician, looked for Best of Show in four categories: 2D, 3D, Digital, and Photography. MCC also selected two Awards of Excellence, chosen by art instructors Violet Luczak and Amy Ortiz.

KimAnh Nguyen (Jacobs), Cynthia Lieu (Hampshire), and Melonie Benitez (Dundee-Crown) took home awards in the "Best of Show: 2D" category. "Best of Show: 3D" awards were given to Leah McQuire (Huntley), Monserrat Rodarte (Dundee-Crown), and Zaccarra Evans (Dundee Crown).

In the "Best of Show: Digital" category, awards were given to Yasmin Ramos (Crystal Lake Central), Gabriella Arreola (Crystal Lake South), and Percy Brass (Prairie Ridge). "Best of Show: Photography" awards went to Jazzmyn Prado (Prairie Ridge) and Soraya Walikonis (Burlington Central). The MCC Award of Excellence went to Linden Laungnikone (Huntley) and Jocelyn Perkins (Cary-Grove).

Honorable mentions went to Angel Nguyen and Nora Dalke (Burlington Central), Seth White and Kaitlyn Javaid (Cary-Grove), August Szadowski and Maya Buchanan (Crystal Lake Central), Emiliano Camacho and Ruth Bierkness (Crystal Lake South), Kadiya Knapp and Elise Bustos (Dundee-Crown), Colette Jeane Santiago and Elma Omeragic (Hampshire), Kacper Gogol and Lilith Myers (Jacobs), Alexis Cobb and Diana Martinez (Huntley), Michelle Jimenez and Katie Ignot-Jenkins (McHenry), Tori Pedersen and Kailyn Daum (Prairie Ridge). The winning logo and poster design for the show was created by Wil Van Dyne, a senior at Cary-Grove High School.

"The show brings in such a great variety of work that we hope to celebrate as many students as possible," said Shutt. "Even if their name isn't read at the awards presentation, we hope that every student who has a work selected feels rewarded for their achievements."

Students enjoy standing in front of their work with friends and loved ones, Shutt said.

"The opportunity to celebrate with their family is very important. Their hard work and exceptional skill is recognized and celebrated on the closing night. I love to meet their families and see their smiling faces."

"We look forward to hosting this show each year," said Sarah Ruthven, MCC art instructor and department chair. "The work created by our high school students is an excellent pairing of critical thinking and exploration at the height of creativity. Each year, the show creates a sense of energy and excitement that is felt across the college."

Many Crystal Lake Central students are considering studying art at MCC after graduation, Shutt added.

"The MCC Art Department is always welcoming to our students and does a great job hosting the show," he said. "This year during the closing ceremony, the MCC Art Club and Photo Club led an art-making session and gave tours of the facilities. This made the experience more memorable for students. The MCC Art Department has so much to offer, and we appreciate the opportunity to connect with them while our students are still in high school."

Shutt and Kerry Parrish from Crystal Lake Central collaborated with MCC to organize this year's show. They, along with fellow art teacher Bob Hewett, teach courses from hands-on 2D and 3D artmaking to photography, digital design, and digital illustration.

For more about the Art program at MCC, visit

Students and their families view more than 250 pieces of art from local high schools on display at McHenry County College for the Fox Valley Conference Art Show. Courtesy of McHenry County College
Students and their families view more than 250 pieces of art from local high schools on display at McHenry County College for the Fox Valley Conference Art Show. Courtesy of McHenry County College
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