Spigel Prize for Excellence in the Visual Arts
Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2023 Spigel Prize for Excellence in the Visual Arts:
Audrey Merryman - Sculpture - Dalton High School
Wade Sitton - Photography - North Murray High School
Now in its 23rd year, the Spigel Prize for Excellence in the Visual Arts was created to honor the amazing work done for the arts in our community by the Creative Arts Guild's first Executive Director, Bernice Spigel, and to encourage more talented young people in Dalton/Whitfield and Murray County to explore the arts.
After a stint at a New York ad agency where she worked with artists such as Andy Warhol, Bernice came to Dalton and nurtured the Creative Arts Guild through its infancy. Her decades in Dalton were marked by a selfless advocacy of the arts, education, and children's causes.
This $1000 award is eligible to any public, private, or home-schooled High School Senior residing or attending school in Dalton/Whitfield or Murray County.
Audrey is a senior at Dalton High School. She discussed herself and her art with us: “Over the years I have tried many different art techniques but nothing has captured my attention like working with ceramics. After working on a few assignments in my ceramics class I realized that I have been fascinated with realism, movement, and the expressions on the faces of animals. I am inspired by the works of Nick Mackman, whose realism and use of facial expression carry the composition of an animal to a much farther place than the ordinary sculpture. Ultimately, I want to capture the feelings and emotions of the animals that enrich our lives and whose pure existence makes one smile and at the same time keep honing my craft within the art room. My hope is to give the viewer the same sense of joy that I find when I create my pieces.”
She explains: “I have always loved art since I was a little girl and knew that I had a calling to the art field. I may not know for sure what I will be doing in the future but I know that whatever it is it will be something related to art. During my first two years in high school, I was exploring all the different art mediums that our school offers along with trying to narrow down a particular subject matter to focus on. When I was little there was one teacher who discouraged me from doing art and told me that I would be a hobo if I built my life as an artist. So, l considered becoming a dentist. It wasn't until I got lost and found myself in Mrs. Lambert's class that I found my sense of purpose again.” (Ms. Lambert is the 3-D Art Instructor at Dalton High)
“My animals were something that I did not think that I would get into later; I started out creating
realistic people, but they did not reach my high expectations. I realized that I was more comfortable and found more enjoyment in creating animals. Even though my realism work was taking off in the community and winning awards, it just didn't feel like the right fit for me. Mrs. Lambert taught me a lot; I first found that eyes are the window to the soul, so they needed to have a lot of feeling and expression. She taught me to put a pupil into the sculpture’s eye by digging into the clay and she taught me that a piece needs to have as much texture as will give it more movement throughout the composition. For showing motion, reference photos are very important; but one has to really use imagination to carry off the piece successfully since there is so much that a two-dimensional image does not tell the three-dimensional artist.”
Wade is a student at North Murray High School. He is currently in AP art and design as well as in an audio/video tech class. He is a member of the Art Honor Society and the e-sports team. “Growing up as a child I always loved to play with toys. Even as I have grown older, I still do but in a different way! In my art I'm trying to capture toys in action! Toy photography is the art of bringing action figures to life by capturing the illusion of movement in one single shot. I am experimenting with different techniques and effects to capture the illusion of flying, jumping, exploding, etc. In the future I hope to do photography as a career. I also love experimenting with special effects as well and perhaps someday I will get to be a special effects artist for film making.”
Wade describes his process: “This is how a typical photo shoot of mine goes. First, I set up the figures and put them in specific poses making sure they are in good strong standing positions. If necessary, I use wire to hold them in place; or, if a figure is supposed to be flying in the shot, I will put a wire around its waist and pose it for the desired effect. Next, I set up the camera and make sure the shutter speed, the ISO, and the background blur are just right to take the photo. Typically, when using fireworks or any kind of action motion I raise the shutter speed as high as possible but not so high that it makes the photo too dark. Next, I make sure that the ISO is at just the right position to capture the amount of light necessary for the photo. Finally, I set the aperture. I typically raise it high enough to capture everything that is going on during the photo shoot with nothing being blurred out and with everything in focus and looking very crispy.”