Congratulations to Ridgefield High School senior Amie Makela for winning a Juror’s Choice Award at the 2021 Washington State Superintendent’s High School Art Show for her sculpture, “It Devours.” Makela’s artwork was one of only four Juror’s Choice Awards selected statewide.

“It Devours” is a sculptural ceramic coil pot. The piece has an intricate double jawbone structure surrounding the pot; one with human teeth and one with coyote teeth. Makela handcrafted each individual clay tooth from photographic models, then set the teeth into clay jawbones before firing and glazing the sculpture.

Ridgefield High School senior, Amie Makela, won a Juror's Choice Award for her sculpture, "It Devours".

Her artist’s statement explained the concept behind the piece. “’It Devours’ is inspired by how we as humans view carnivores. We often think we are morally superior to carnivores, despite the fact that we kill animals and we eat meat just like them. This is shown through the teeth on the base because the outside set of teeth is that of a human while the inside set of teeth is that of a coyote. So, it basically shows the human eating the coyote, or at least being on the same level as the coyote.”

Makela never expected her sculpture to be an award winner. She completed it for a class assignment and wasn’t even sure how she did on that. “I kind of went off-road with it,” she said with a laugh, “but Ms. Hoodenpyl gives us a lot of freedom in class to do what we want.” While Makela has worked with other materials, like fabric and paper-mâché, this was one of her first ceramic sculptures. So she was surprised when Hoodenpyl asked her to submit it for the regional art show at Educational Service District 112.

“I really didn’t think I was going to win anything,” Makela said with a shrug. But the sculpture was a regional winner in the Educational Service District 112, which qualified her for state level competition. When the sculpture also won an award at the state level, she was shocked.  “To go on to state, then to win at state?” Makela shook her head, still in disbelief. 

Due to COVID restrictions, this year’s awards ceremony was held online from the Old Capitol Building in Olympia, hosted by state Superintendent of Schools Chris Reykdal and OSPI Chief of Staff Tennille Jeffries-Simmons. The pieces in the show were judged on creativity, composition, and technique. Award winners were selected by a jury that included museum curators, gallery owners, college professors, artists, and educators.

Makela’s winning sculpture was introduced in the online show by one of the jurors, Shameka Gagnier, an artist and program coordinator on native voices for the nonprofit Arts Impact. In talking about Makela’s winning sculpture, Gagnier said, “The piece is effortless and also very visceral. It holds a lot of tension, so that juxtaposition is really interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your gifts and your dedication to the arts.” 

Amie Makela created a video artist's statement for the awards program.

Artist and juror, Shameka Gagnier, introduced Makela's award-winning piece.

Overall, Makela enjoyed the experience and is grateful that Hoodenpyl encouraged her to apply. “The art program at RHS is great, and Ms. Hoodenpyl is really cool,” Makela said. 

Hoodenpyl was impressed with the sculpture, crediting Makela’s talent for the wins. “Amie is an amazing artist,” she said. “Her quiet demeanor and focused creativity have been such a pleasure to watch. She is a very humble artist that I think at times does not even realize the immense talent she has. I am so very proud of her.”

The regional art show video and gallery can be viewed at: https://www.esd112.org/artshow/

The gallery of state award winners is at: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/awards-recognition/superintendents-high-school-art-show/2021

And the 48th annual Washington State Superintendent’s High School Art Show Awards program can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=070nIhjxI-0