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Buckhannon-Upshur Middle Schooler Hunter Sawyers receives an Upshur Stars Award for art. Hunter drew a best of show win to bring home $1,000 for himself and $500 for his classroom for supplies. His art instructor is Virginia Hicks.

One B-UMS student ‘draws’ attention to Upshur County Schools with his art skills

BUCKHANNON – An Upshur County student has ‘drawn’ attention to himself, the county and Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School with his award-winning art.

Hunter Sawyers, sixth-grader at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, had one of his pieces selected for presentation at the West Virginia Art Educators Association Youth Art Month Show in Parkersburg in February and the West Virginia Department of Education ArtsAlive Showcase in Charleston, where it was deemed a winner.

“Hunter’s artwork is titled ‘Amate Bark Painting,’ and was initially selected by my fellow art colleagues and myself as one of nine pieces sent by our county to the West Virginia Art Educators Association Youth Art Month Show in Parkersburg in February,” said Hunter’s art instructor, Virginia Hicks. “We selected it because it was very eye-catching and interesting to look at. It was well-created and showed artistic skill and was different from other pieces, showing multi-cultural content.”

Hicks said Hunter’s artwork did very well at the YAM show in Parkersburg, earning him first place in the Middle School 2D category and ultimately, Best of Show. Following the YAM show, the piece traveled to the West Virginia Department of Education ArtsAlive Showcase in Charleston.

“At the ArtsAlive Showcase, it was placed on display among hundreds of pieces from schools throughout the state, all from grades kindergarten through 12,” Hicks said. “Hunter, his family and I received a special invitation to attend the award ceremony. At the Showcase, Hunter was invited on stage where his work was awarded the grand prize of $1,000 from Sargent Art Supply Company and $500 worth of art supplies for our school.”

Hunter said he never imagined his work would be a winner, let alone be entered in any contests.

“When I was making this piece of art, I had no idea that it would go to a competition and win,” Hunter said during the Upshur County Board of Education’s Tuesday, April 16, meeting. “I was pretty shocked, yet very excited to win.”

He also said he has no idea what he will do with his $1,000 winnings, but his mom said in the meantime, he has deposited the money into his savings account until he decides.

‘Amate Bark Painting’ is based on the Amate Bark paintings of a small group of indigenous Mexicans who continue the practice today. Hicks said it is folk art, and therefore, very simple, yet highly decorative.

“Hunter’s artwork shows great composition, includes beautiful, contrasting colors and is skillfully executed,” Hicks said. “Hunter used a combination of tempera paint and oil pastel. The brown craft paper base was chosen specifically to emulate the dark stain of the Amate Bark papers.”

Hicks said in middle school, students are taught fundamentals, such as the elements of art, color theory and the principles of design.

“In addition, middle school art students should be provided with a variety of different materials such as paint, pencil, pastels and recycled materials and allowed to explore and experience a variety of techniques such as painting, drawing, collage, weaving, sculpture and printmaking. This gives my students a variety of avenues with which to express their creativity and builds the foundation for a more personalized art experience during high school.”

She said she is very proud of Hunter and his accomplishments.

“He is an exceptional art student and is a very polite and humble young man,” Hicks said.

Hunter is the son of Doug and Jamie Sawyers. Mom Jamie said Hunter loves to doodle and draw pictures of nature.

“He was never into art much until this year in school,” Jamie Sawyers said. “Mrs. Hicks brought out the creative side of Hunter.”

She said when he was in fourth grade at Washington District Elementary School, his art was one selected to be in the Evening of the Arts at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

“The folks at Washington District framed his artwork, and it is still hanging in the school,” his mom added.

Jamie Sawyers said Hunter really enjoys his art classes and is disappointed he can only take one art class this year with block scheduling.

“But he plans to take more art classes next year,” she said. “So far, Hunter says his favorite medium is chalk pastels.”

She said she and her husband, Doug, are still in shock with his award-winning artwork.

“As his mom, I think everything he does is wonderful,” Jamie Sawyers said. “We couldn’t believe it made it so far, but we are so proud of him. He adores his art teacher and loves being in her class. She inspires him to be a better artist and gives him good instruction. He is an amazing kid – so humble and so kind – he would do anything for anybody.”

Jamie Sawyers said they are pleased with Hicks.

“We are very grateful to Mrs. Hicks,” she said. “We love her and are thankful she gave our son Hunter this opportunity to learn and grow.”

Hunter is not only an award-winning artist, but a member of the B-UMS archery team.

“The team is going to the nationals and last year, Hunter placed second in the state,” she said.

His mom also noted Hunter is a member of Faith Baptist Church and he loves to fish and hunt deer. When he grows up, he hopes to be a game warden and keep his art as a side hobby.

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