Artists at work in Dexter Community Schools


Vanessa Szydlowski's Fauvism Self Portrait

Dexter Community Schools has some talented artists walking its hallways.

Evidence of this can be found in the Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA) Region 3 Art Competition. Students from different grade levels in DCS had their art work selected as part of this competition. Their artwork along with other students from around the county will be displayed in the Ann Arbor District Library in downtown in April until early May.

Dexter High School art teacher Krickett Chamberlain said the MAEA offers its members the unique opportunity to showcase outstanding artwork produced by students from all regions of the state of Michigan. 

Creekside art teacher Jane Montero said the MAEA is divided into 18 regions based on geography/location in the state. Each region has a juried K - 12 student art show based on elementary (K-5), middle level (6-8), and secondary (9-12).

Montero said from these shows, jurors select student art to move forward to the state level shows next month. She said work chosen at the state level includes a Top 100 and Top 18 which are further displayed throughout the state and in past years, student art has been displayed in Lansing and various locations up and down the state.

Here are the names of the Dexter students who had their work selected:

  • Hannah Schultz, 11th Grade
  • Vanessa Szydlowski, 11th Grade
  • Safia Untalan, 10th Grade
  • Rachel Rascol, 10th Grade
  • Elise Lu, 9th Grade
  • Audrey Bi, fifth grade
  • Owen Bryant, fifth grade
  • Ava Grant-Wall, fifth grade
  • Elle Komaromi, fifth grade
  • Even Pregont, fifth grade
  • Ivy Francis, sixth grade
  • Allie Hoeft, sixth grade
  • Spencer Kinnard, sixth grade
  • Erin Nieman, sixth grade
  • John Novak, sixth grade
  • Eleanor Briggs 3rd grade
  • Penelope Burns 3rd grade
  • Allison Cabble 4th grade
  • Nyah Hubert 4th grade
  • Calvin Schrauben 3rd grade

The art teachers all agree on two things: the school district is filled with artists and it's tough selecting just a handful to participate in the competition.

“Selecting specific student art for art shows is very difficult because there are so many talented young artists in Dexter,” Montero said. “What I look for when selecting student art is artwork that immediately stands out for a number of reasons which could include the use of color, details, craftsmanship, and uniqueness. All ten (from Creekside) of these students worked hard on every assignment and these pieces reflect their dedication to the artistic process.”

Chamberlain said art education members of MAEA (like her) have the opportunity to select the work for this show.

“Unfortunately we can only select five pieces and Dexter's students are so talented and I am so fortunate to teach at Dexter High School that it makes my job of choosing five pieces extremely hard,” she said. “I haven't quite decided if that is a good thing or bad thing yet, the jury is still out. I am so proud of these students and their creativity, thoughtfulness and talent when it came to using project requirements and turning them into passionate and exemplary works of art.”

Wylie Elementary art teacher Valerie Eninsche said “We are fortunate to have a strong art program here in Dexter and students in Dexter are very excited about art! The students selected for the show consistently approach art making with curiosity, a creative mindset and wonderful attention to detail.”

The Sun Times News reached out to some of the students to ask about their work and being chosen for the competition.

DHS Freshman Elise Lu said, “I was really surprised that I was chosen for the MAEA Region Show. I love photography and have really enjoyed the opportunities that Ms. Chamberlain's class has given me.”

Of her work, which is a photo, she said she was experimenting with light and shadows.

“I used common household objects to create a unique pattern with the light,” said Lu.

Elise Lu's photo.

Hannah Schultz, a junior at DHS, described her art piece as a watercolor landscape of some trees in the woods during the autumn.

On being selected, she said. “I am incredibly proud of myself for spending so long on a piece and having it being selected. I would have never thought that it would be going into a competition. When I was making it I was just doing what I enjoyed and building upon my skills and knowledge of how watercolor works, you know. It’s incredibly amazing to be experiencing.”

Hannah Schultz's watercolor landscape

January is National Art Advocacy month and displaying student art is just one of many ways to celebrate the importance of quality art education at each grade level, said Montero.

“We are very fortunate in Dexter to have a community that supports art - both visual and performing art,” Montero said. “Artistic expression and creativity are critical skills that help develop high-level problem-solving skills. Dexter Community Schools has amazing talent, which we hope to keep fostering in the future.”

Here are some more pieces of art created by these Dexter students:

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