Art is alive in Fort Mill schools.
Fort Mill High School senior Jimmy Poluszek was a first place winner in the 2015 Congressional Art Competition. Poluszek’s piece, “Mr. Fixer,” invoked the imagination of an inventor who wants to create a tool that does it all.
The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide high school visual art competition sponsored by the Congressional Institute recognizing the talent of individuals in each congressional district. The program began in 1982. Winning selections from the 5th District were honored during a reception at the York County Council for the Arts April 26.
There was a record number of participants this year, said District 5 Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-Indian Land). The winners were chosen from 281 entries representing 11 schools throughout the district.
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“It’s a nice way to recognize all the real, young talent we have in our area,” Mulvaney said. “We are trying to give these young folks who have so much creativity an outlet and opportunity to show their work.”
Poluszek, 18, said the piece is based on an inventor’s problem of having too many tools. He said the final work has been a culmination of a few sketches he has done before with that theme in mind. The tool featured “is the epitome of these kinds of devices,” he said.
“Mr. Fixer” was a piece Poluszek created for his art class assignment to create an anti-still life work, meaning it reflects something that is physical, but doesn’t exist in today’s world.
Poluszek has been sketching for years.
“I’ve always wanted to take the ideas in my head and put them on paper,” he said. “Now I can see it better and others can see it, too.”
Poluszek submitted a piece when he was a sophomore, but did not place. He didn’t think this piece would place either, let alone win, he said.
“It was shocking,” he said.
The piece was chosen the winner because of its immediate visual impact and unique subject, said Barbary Curry, a juror for the contest.
As the winner, Poluszek will fly for free through Southwest Airlines to attend the reception for all the country’s winners in Washington, D.C. in June. His work will also be displayed among the other winners’ pieces in the U.S. Capitol. Poluszek also received $50 worth of art supplies and $200 toward expenses for his trip. The money was donated by Marcia Buike, District 5 volunteer coordinator.
Poluszek said he plans to study more interactive art media, such as computing, in college.
This is the third year Poluszek’s teacher, Jessica Calloway, who used to teach at Northwestern High School, has mentored the first place winner, Buike said.
“We’re very proud of her,” she said.
Fort Mill High School also hired a fourth art teacher for this coming fall and will offer more art classes, Buike said.
“I think Fort Mill is going to be the school to beat,” she said.
Fort Mill High School’s Theresa Erickson, Kaela Haboush and Michael Livak also won honorable mentions for their pieces.
Each year, Mulvaney, now in is third term, chooses a piece as his favorite to hang in his Washington office. This year, he chose a photograph by Carlos Morales, a junior at Sumter High School. His wife Pamela chose Northwestern High junior Lara Breitkreutz’s piece to hang in the Rock Hill congressional office.
Karrington Prioleau, a sophomore at Northwestern, took second place for his take on “Van Gogh’s Chair.” Using the paper pulp process, he mixed different colors of construction paper with water and allowed it to dry before putting it together in the final form. Prioleau, 16, said Van Gogh’s piece was an inspiration.
“I found it colorful and challenging,” he said.
Curry said Prioleau’s work had good design fundamentals.
“Texture combined with color harmony gave this small, but beautifully handled tactile work immediate visual impact,” she said.
Third place winner, Northwestern junior Hannah Rivers, 16, said she wanted to focus on warm colors for this year’s entry. She said a group of friends came up with the name of the piece, “The Meaty Insides,” as it reminded them of meat.
Rivers, who also applied last year but did not place, said she was surprised to place this year.
“It means a lot,” she said. “There are so many other wonderful artists that are here.”
Curry said the piece used both colors and non-symmetrical shapes to make a visual impact.
“It fills the entire composition with an energetic roller coaster ride of rhythms,” she said. “It was a beautiful show. I applaud the students and teachers.”