Arts center 'proud' student work earns accolades

Five students at the Village Center for the Arts in New Milford have been recognized in a national arts exhibition.

The students each had selected pieces juried in the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ annual conference.

The event was scheduled to take place March 25 in Richmond, Va., but due to the coronavirus pandemic, was not open to the public.

More than 950 entries were submitted nationally and only 110 pieces were selected to be juried.

Of the 110 selected pieces, five were created by VCA students.

Four of the students were also recognized with awards.

“It’s brilliant,” said Sharon Kaufman, co-owner of the VCA.

“Being chosen to have your piece juried is awesome,” she said. “Any additional awards are a bonus.”

This is the second year the VCA submitted pieces for the exhibition, which is open to any school or organization that works with children in grades K-12.

Fifteen pieces were submitted by the VCA this year.

The five students whose works were juried are Sydney Lent, 7, Nate Ferraro, 8, Fiona MacKessy, 9, Elisabeth Pfaft, 12, and Stephanie Bryant, 14, all of New Milford.

“Having this exhibition as a goal over the past year has been an inspiration to the children because there’s now solid reaction from strangers who are looking at their pieces critically and finding beauty and expertise in the pieces,” Kaufman related.

Sydney’s entry, “Peacoo-Bitt,” is a half peacock/half rabbit made of clay, wood, glaze and acrylic paint. It earned honorable mention.

Nate’s work, “Frankie Boy,” is a sculpture of his former dog. Made with ceramic, glaze and fabric, it earned an Artistic Merit Award.

“The Goat King” by Fiona, whose had a piece selected in last year’s exhibition, earned the Jack Troy Award of $50, the Curator’s Book Award, and an Artistic Merit Award.

Her piece consisted of ceramic, wood, Sculpey clay, gems and epoxy.

Elisabeth’s entry, “Zena,” which is a Raku-fired ceramic sculpture of a family dog given to her father, earned honorable mention, an Artistic Merit Award, a Jack Troy Award of $50, and several ICAN prizes, including membership and a magazine subscription.

“Light the Ocean” by Stephanie is a ceramic box with glaze and crystals that has a top and bottom and, when put together, is an octopus.

“I’m beyond proud,” Kaufman said.. “I am exhilarated that my students absorbed so much in one year’s time.”

Other students and the work they submitted include David Lowe, 11, for “A Deathly Grace; Amber Purdy, 10, for “Midnight Flyer” and “Colors of Life”; Jade MacGuire, 16, for “Elemental Vessel 1” and “Elemental Vessel 2”; Mason Breidster, 6, for “Dog Boot”; and Finley Clark, 8, for “Marshmallow.”

Sydney and Elisabeth each submitted a second piece, “Love Ozo” and “Roberto,” respectively.

All of the pieces that were entered in the exhibition, including the winning pieces, are on display in the window of the center’s pottery studio on Church Street.

“The children that were chosen have gone above and beyond,” Kaufman summed up. “But all the children on the list for pieces chosen, really created incredible work well beyond their age groups.”

Nate’s involvement at the center, which began last summer, “brought out a whole other side of him,” his mother, Laura, said.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” she said. “It’s been great to see him grow over the past few months.”

She said Nate was “super excited” to have his work selected for the show, but was disappointed when the public event was canceled due to the pandemic because it meant he couldn’t travel to Virginia.

His spirits were perked, though, when he learned he was one of only a small number of students who earned a merit award.