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They are some of the 'Best'

East Ridge High School juniors Katie Thoreson, for graphic art, Joanna Prizybyl, for textiles, and Molly Hamer, for ceramics, were featured in Les Farrington's Best 100 Juried Art Exhibition.

East Ridge High School junior Joanna Prizybyl, an exchange student from Poland, started out the school year by enrolling in as many art classes as she could.

In Poland, art isn't typically taught at the high school level.

"I've always loved art and when I came here there were so many opportunities to take art classes," she said. "I took almost all of them."

Prizybyl received a pleasant surprise last month when a rug she wove was selected as a "Merit Award" recipient in Les Farrington's Best 100 Juried Art Exhibition.

"It was just a huge surprise," she said.

The Best 100 art exhibit features the best 100 works of art by St. Paul area public and private schools sponsored by the St. Paul Jaycees.

Prizybyl wasn't the only East Ridge student featured in the Best 100 art show. Juniors Molly Hamer, for ceramics, and Katie Thoreson, for graphic art, were also selected for the art show.

"I was just elated," Hamer said. "It was very kind of awe inspiring.

Several Woodbury High School students were also included in the Best 100 art exhibit - Alex Marentic, ceramics; Erin Griffen, drawing; Justin Herold-Plakut, sculpture; Amanda Pruden-Meyer, photography; Madeline Collins, senior portfolio; and Anthony Doreo, senior portfolio.

"It was great to see how many original ideas people had," Prizybyl said.

The artwork featured in the Best 100 art exhibit were on display for the month of March at the AZ Gallery in St. Paul.

"I have awesome confidence now in myself that other people like my work," Thoreson said.

All three East Ridge students who were featured in the Best 100 exhibit were introduced to art at an early age.

"I can't remember a time when I wasn't involved in art," Hamer said. "Whenever an opportunity arose to do art, I took it."

Hamer, said she was primarily drawn to ceramics because you never really know how it will turn out.

"With ceramics there's an element of surprise," she said. "You put it in the kiln and you don't know what it's going to look like when it comes out, so there's that feeling of letting go and letting the artwork do its own thing."

Hamer said one of her favorite things about art is how you can always see the artist's personality in it.

"Art always reflects a part of the person who made it," she said.

Thoreson said her first introduction to art was doodling in class.

"Then you kind of become your own little independent artist and you go and explore things that you are really good at," she said.

Thoreson, who draws primarily, said she looks to history and mythology for inspiration for her artwork. "If there isn't a visual to go along with it, I love to come up in my mind what it would," she said.

Prizybyl said she was drawn to loom weaving her first day at East Ridge because she had never seen anything like it before.

"I decided to try it and I fell in love," she said.

Prizybyl said she enjoys the escape art provides.

"I can just forget about the whole world," she said.

All three East Ridge students said they're not sure if art is going to become a career for them, but they hope it remains an important part of their life.

"I don't really think about art for a career, but art is definitely something that will always be in my life because I love to do it," Prizybyl said.

Thoreson said she enjoys how unlimited art is.

"It just feels like the whole world is open to possibilities," she said. "There's the freedom to do wherever your dreams can take you. Art is about just letting go of your feelings through your art and making it a part of your life."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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