Students are winners in state art criticism contest

Students are winners in state art criticism contest

Student Beatrice Nery and Charlie Ritch are winners in the 2018 Jerry Tollifson Art Criticism Open.

Two students from The Summit Country Day School are winners in the 2018 Jerry Tollifson Art Criticism Open, sponsored by the Ohio Art Education Association.

Fourth grader Charlie Ritch, Hyde Park, won first place in Division 2 for students in third-fifth grades. He wrote about Triceracopter, a work that the late Patricia Renick created from fiberglass and a salvaged OH-6A Cayuse helicopter. Ms. Renick was a longtime instructor at the University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture and Art and Planning.

Third grader Beatrice Nery, Mt. Lookout, received second place in Division 2. She wrote about The Green House, a dye destruction print laid down on Plexiglas by Sandy Skoglund, an American photographer and installation artist. 

Summit Lower School students have been participating in the writing competition for 18 years making the project a collaboration between the art teacher and academic teachers.

“When we begin our art criticism unit, I select paintings or sculptures for each grade level that would encourage dialogue, art works that beg the question ‘What is happening here?’ ”said Lower School art teacher Hilary Carvitti. “I communicate selected art work to those teachers so that they can reference the work. Students view the art work to be criticized on our ActiveBoard in the art room and talk about what we see, what we notice, what we think is happening in the art work, and why we think the artist made the choices he or she made in creating it.”

Students take notes on what they discuss in art class and what they independently believe about the art piece. They take their notes to their language arts class where they write compositions, make changes and type their essays.

Fourth grade teacher Frances Keller says she looks forward every year to the competition. “It provides an opportunity for me to teach mini lessons on the artist, the time period, and the artistic style,” she said. “The art criticisms promote students’ opinion piece writing by introducing them to critique writing.”

Mrs. Carvitti said it is interesting to hear what the students know 

The annual writing competition recognizes students for their articulation skills in composing critical responses to artworks. The competition encourages critical thinking and deeper understandings of the meaning, value and significance of works of art.

The essays written by Charlie and Beatrice will be displayed as part of the 2018 Youth Art Month Exhibition at the State Teachers Retirement Systems Building in Columbus, and the students have been invited to a recognition reception there on March 3. All award-winning essays will be featured on the OAEA website ( and the work of first-place winners will also be featured in an upcoming issue of Ohio ArtLine, the statewide publication of the Ohio Art Education Association.