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Recent high school graduates design sculptures for park

An AP Member Exchange shared by The Grand Island Independent

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — The work of three recent high school graduates will aid in the revitalization of Stolley Park.

Enrique Martinez, Maggie Lucero and Yazmin Vera, who graduated last month from Grand Island Senior High, are each producing a sculpture that will be permanently on display in the park’s new pollinator garden.

The Friends of Grand Island Parks are behind the ambitious plan for Stolley Park. The four large gardens at the park will be divided into eight themed gardens. The pollinator garden will be the first, said Vikki Deuel of Friends of Grand Island Parks.

The plantings for the garden are being grown by students at the Success Academy, whose principal is Ken DeFrank. The goal of the project is to breathe new life into Stolley Park, Deuel told the Grand Island Independent.

All three students are very good with clay, said GISH art teacher Jerome Dubas.

Martinez devotes most of his attention to painting and drawing. “But I also like working with clay,” he said.

Lucero works primarily with clay. “I have little to no experience in 2-D,” she said.

Dubas said the student pieces made for Stolley Park are organic abstract sculptures.

In her sophomore year at GISH, Lucero realized she was passionate about clay. “She’s really proficient on the potter’s wheel. That’s kind of her forte,” Dubas said.

Martinez is more of a figurative sculptor, while Vera makes “large vessels, hand-built objects,” Dubas said.

In late March, Dubas drove Martinez, Lucero and Vera to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual conference in Minneapolis. Lucero said the conference was “wonderful.”

The conference offered a wealth of information, Dubas said. Martinez enjoyed the gathering, except for one panel discussion he stumbled onto. He said “everybody else in the room was old, so I felt really unwelcome.” One of the topics was the toll that pottery takes on aging bodies, so it didn’t really apply to Martinez.

The students deserved the trip, Dubas said, because of their talent and dedication. He figures their work on the Stolley Park project is a way of paying back.

Martinez’s art is featured at UNDRground Contemporary Arts through June 28. The show, called “Children’s Crusade,” opened May 3. Admission to the show is free. The gallery is open Friday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Martinez put together a magazine for his friends. He and Lucero also wrote a poetry book in conjunction with the UNDRground show.

At the Scholastic Art Awards of Nebraska, Lucero, Martinez and Vera were among the students named State Gold Key winners.

As part of the National Scholastic Art Awards, Martinez and Lucero were honored with both gold key and silver key awards.

Martinez and another student, Robert Schoenstein, will have their works selected by the Nebraska Arts Council displayed in the Governor’s Mansion next year.

Dubas and Martinez were recently at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Over a three-year period, Martinez has earned much recognition in the Scholastic Art Awards competition, which is the premiere national competition for visual arts.

Each year, more than 300,000 pieces are entered nationally in the Scholastic Art Awards competition. On the state level, his art has been awarded best of show, 18 gold key awards, 11 silver key awards, and five honorable mentions. Any work being designated with a gold key award is automatically entered into the National Scholastics Competition. Three-hundred of the 300,000 pieces of the art entered (or .1 are awarded national gold key awards. Martinez has received three of these.

Organizers hope to install the sculptures at Stolley Park in August or September.

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