FAIRMONT — In Ashley Berdeau’s art class at Fairmont High School, students learn about the relative darkness or lightness of color, known as color value. Among the chatter produced by inquiring minds, two students not only discuss their work that reflects all they’ve learned, but the value of doing something different.
Goliath “Luke” Hunt, a 17-year-old junior, and Tayler Warren, a 14-year-old freshman, have both been honored for two very difference pieces. Out of 200,000 submissions at the regional and state levels to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Hunt — with his sculpture of a rocking chair crafted from Doritos bags — was among 13,000 students across the nation to earn a Gold Key. Following the footsteps of Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath and Truman Capote, he went on to win a Silver Key at the national level, becoming one of 1,500 students from the original 200,000.
With her drawing of a cutthroat trout, Warren won first place in the State Fish Art Contest in her grade division, giving her an opportunity to go to Little Rock, Ark., on June 14 to attend the State Fish Art Expo at Central Arkansas Nature Center. She will attend a dinner and work with professional artists in workshops.
“I chose to do the cutthroat trout because all of the other students were doing the state fish,” Warren said. “I wanted to do something different.”
Hunt was similarily motivated.
“I just wanted to do something different,” he said. “It was a project Mrs. Berdeau assigned out of recycled material. I chose Doritos because they were my grandpa’s favorite snack.”
The sculpture honors his grandfather, who used to dispense wisdom while in his favorite rocking chair. It is made of about 100 woven Doritos bags. Hunt interchanged the metallic and the colored sides to add color value.
“My grandpa, he was my best friend. We would just sit around and talk and he would give me advice about life,” Hunt said. “He would tell me that things are going to happen and you have to just keep going and keep on. He passed away in 2008.”
Berdeau said that after 90 days of having Hunt in her class, she never knew of James Bartley’s death.
“Art allows the students to overcome challenges and they express themselves a lot more than they would by just vocalizing it. Luke is the type of student that the more challenging the project is, the better he does,” Berdeau said.
“Taylor is the opposite. She is more studious and she’ll start on a project right away and she’ll bring it back a few times to check it. She might turn in something two or three times to make sure everything is done on it.”
On April 23, Goliath visited the Executive Mansion in Raleigh to receive his awards; Warren is currently raising money to pay for her trip to Arkansas.
The allure of a road trip with her family beat out the excitement of a plane ride, and Warren plans on driving to Arkansas with her “mothers,” Heather Perry and Tracy Emmerson, and brother Joshua Warren, focusing more on the journey than the destination.
It was the creative process — not the finished product — that the students found most satisfying.
“It is relaxing for me to create art. It calms me,” said Hunt, a defensive end on Fairmont High’s football team and a power forward on the basketball team. “I think if my grandpa saw it, he’d be happy.”
Warren, with the help of her classmates, has raised $300 to pay for her trip, but needs about $600 more. To help raise more money, the school is holding a drawing for a TV donated by Walmart during its Cultural Arts Festival on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“I feel good knowing that I finished something that I started,” Hunt said of his sculpture.
But Warren disagrees.
“I feel good if it looks good. If it looks bad, I know I’ll have to do it again,” she said.