Scholastic Art Awards of Nebraska highlights state’s young artists

Omaha Public Schools hosted the Nebraska region's Scholastic Art Awards this week, showcasing the work of students from 75 schools across the state.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 10:18 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Art may have changed in the 100 years since the first Scholastic Art and Writing Awards were held.

But the artistic process remains grounded in appreciation of what’s around us.

“We’re all living in Nebraska, but then all these people are making completely different art about their lives,” said Omaha Central High senior Owen Moeller. “In art, you can be completely inspired by other people and make a completely different piece of art.”

Moeller finds inspiration in the 1,000 works created by fellow student artists across Nebraska, illuminating almost every floor of the OPS TAC Building at 32nd and Cuming in Omaha.

For 19 years, the Nebraska region has been part of the national honors program. This year’s 588 award winners represent 75 schools in the state.

“These five works are the American Vision nominees, and we consider these kind of the best of the best from the show, just based on the judge’s decision,” said Angela Fischer, supervisor of art education with OPS. “One of these would be guaranteed to be a national award winner, get a gold medal and be displayed in New York.”

“Gold Key Award” pieces are entered in the national competition as well. Moeller’s work is being judged there for the second year -- some of it created with the simplest of tools and a little good timing.

“It’s the luck of the good fortune of being able to travel to these places, being in the right place at the right time,” Moeller said. “But it’s also taking your phone out and taking your pictures...this is one of 20,000 photos I have on my phone.”

Once he started high school, Central’s art program opened Owen’s creative world. Teachers like Tanya Simmons and Jeremy Cisco inspired him to try every medium every chance he got.

“He pushed for us to keep making art through COVID, so I think that was also part of it, having that time at home,” Moeller said. “I just kept making art, that’s all I was doing.”

He’s since expanded his practice in places like the Joslyn Art Museum’s Kent Bellows Mentoring Program. Like other students here, art has galvanized Moeller’s confidence in whatever he chooses to do.

“I may be inclined in arts, but the importance is finding those subjects, styles that I want to work hard at and keep getting better at,” Moeller said.

“The point of the competition is not necessarily to make artists,” Fischer said. “The students from across the state are able to communicate their feelings, their expressions, their hopes and dreams. Art has many ways to help balance out our lives.”

In addition to the prestige and opportunity to have their work seen, Nebraska’s teenage artists are also up for more than $13,000 in national scholarship awards.

The Nebraska regional exhibit at OPS’s administrative building is open to the public through the end of the month. Artists who made it into the national competition will learn on March 22 if they’ve earned medals. Their art will then be sent to New York for exhibition.