Wildcat World – WVIA Visual Artist of the Year


Western Wayne Artist Desiree Counterman Named WVIA Visual Artist of the Year
By Jessica McLaughlin

The phrase “Take Chances” appears on the t-shirt of a person from a portrait that Western Wayne senior art student Desiree Counterman submitted as one of many pieces to be judged in WVIA’s Visual Artist of the Year Contest.  It seems the chance Desiree took on working to develop her craft as an artist in middle school paid off in a big way on Friday, April 13, at Mainstreet Galleries in Kingston where she was awarded the top honor of WVIA’s 2018 Visual Artist of the Year.

She competed among 40 other districts in Northeastern and Central PA.  Desiree’s journey to achieving this high honor began in the beginning of January when she was named WVIA’s Visual Artist of the Week.  From there, Desiree was chosen as one of eleven students up for the Visual Artist of the Year Award.

The artwork of these talented young artists was on display at Mainstreet Galleries in Kingston where a panel of local artists judged their work for this contest.  The judging panel for visual art consisted of Earl Lehman, professional and resident artist;  Diane Czajkowski, equine artist; David Raynock, photographer and videographer at WVIA; and Nichole Josefowicz, commissioned artist and  strategic partnership mgr. for the Taylor Corporation.

This talented group of professional visual artists named Desiree Artist of the Year.  The last Western Wayne student to win this honor was Westen Johnson in 2015.  Desiree described what she felt like at the event where she received her award.

“I knew there were a lot of really good artists there,” she said.  “I saw many really good pieces, so I felt a lot of suspense leading up to when my name was announced last for Visual Artist of the Year.”

Desiree explained how she started art as a hobby in middle school and never expected to develop her craft as much as she has especially in her high school years.

Desiree’s high school art teacher Mr. Justin Hayden explains what makes her stand out as an artist.

“Her work in creating her portrait pieces is exceptional because of the way she captures emotions,” Hayden explained.  “She uses water color in a life-like way and captures a youthful beauty in portraits.  She has developed skills in the proportions she uses.  It isn’t easy to use the amount of precision needed to render life-like portraits like she does.”

Desiree, who will attend Empire Beauty School in the fall, will have her portrait collection on display at Western Wayne’s Annual Art Show on Saturday, May 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the high school gym.  The event is free admission and will feature an Asian theme this year.  The Art Show is followed by another free event, the Western Wayne High School Band and Chorus Concert starting at 3 p.m. in the newly renovated Veterans Memorial Auditorium in the high school.

Desiree’s portrait collection is her senior exhibit at the art show.  All Western Wayne senior artists have a featured exhibit at the event.  Hers will be garden-themed with her portraits prominently featured.  She will display the portraits amongst a garden scene with plant life, flowers, and greenery.

Hayden is proud of Desiree’s achievements and feels excited for the public to see her artwork along with the work of his other students at the Art Show on May 12.

“It’s nice being recognized for all of the hard work she’s done over the years and for her dedication to pay off.”

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