Senior Emily Phaup took first place tonight at Columbia Art League’s exhibit, “Appetite,” for her chalk pastel piece, “Fresh Picked.” Judging was blind — the juror judged all entries in the exhibition without knowing the identities of the artists, meaning Phaup was up against competition of all ages and levels of experience. Because of this, Phaup said she was “very, very surprised” upon hearing her name announced.
“[The award] means everything to me,” said Phaup, who is the first RBHS student to earn this honor. “I mean, I know people who have spent their whole life doing this and have pieces in the show, and it’s just crazy to me that, being a high school student, I got first place … it’s crazy.”
Abbey Trescott, Phaup’s AP Art 2 teacher, said that ensuring the award was a surprise for Phaup was difficult. Trescott knew about the award about a week prior to tonight, making the secret more and more difficult to keep as the days passed.
To make sure Phaup had a support group at the exhibit when she won, Trescott said she had to spoil the secret to a few of Phaup’s friends and fellow art students.
“I really wanted to support Emily,” Elena Franck, who is in art with Phaup, said. “Her piece is absolutely incredible, and we wanted to be there for her. Also, we knew that she was going to win so it was super exciting.”
Diana Moxon, executive director of CAL, explained the judging process, saying that an outside juror — for this exhibition, Sarah Nguyen, a teaching artist at the University of Central Missouri at Warrensburg — went through all the submitted pieces and decided which ones would be shown in the exhibit. From those, she then decided which ones would receive awards without knowing who had created the pieces.
Moxon said this aspect of the judging process made giving the Best of Show award to Phaup all the more incredible.
“It’s just so exciting,” Moxon said. “I love giving out whatever award it is, but to have a high school student win … there are professors in this show. There are professional artists, long-time painters. To have a high school student win … I mean earlier, when I was talking about the importance of art education in schools, I should have said, ‘This is why we have art education in schools, for this very moment, because this is the amazing talent that an art education program can put forward.’ So it’s very exciting to give an award to a young artist who you can see has an amazing future ahead of them.”
In addition to winning 1st place at tonight’s exhibit, Phaup also won the Emerging Artist award at the last exhibit, “Please Don’t Touch” for another chalk pastel, “Grandad’s Lucky 13.” With this admirable track record behind her, Trescott said she is excited for Phaup’s future and incredibly happy about her present successes.
“Obviously this is one of the most gratifying experiences, to see your student out in the real world, putting their work out in the public arena, and not only that, but to be awarded Best of Show with and among professional artists in the community, it’s one of the best things that can happen for our students,” Trescott said. “And obviously it’s an honor and a privilege to be working with such talented students … in Emily’s future I hope she continues to make art. Obviously she’s very talented. She has a passion for art and creating beautiful works. I don’t know if art is a career path of hers, but I hope it always remains a large part of her life.”
By Urmila Kutikkad