Clay it Up: A Friendly Competition

Visual art students participate in clay competition


Landon Carson and Lane Loney competing in team Clay It Up competition at Kickapoo high school

Hailey Deluca-Bolin, Reporter

  The visual arts department at the Nixa High School has a broad range of classes students are able to take. One of the visual art classes provided to students is a ceramics class where students are able to throw and hand sculpt clay to make projects of their own. To add to this class, they are able compete in a competition towards the end of the year known as “Clay It Up” founded in 2019 by Nixa’s visual arts department chair and high school art teacher Ryan Widel.

  “I started the event back in 2019 as a way to showcase student talent,” Widel said. “Many people see finished artworks, but especially in ceramics, there are many different aspects [such as] skills and techniques that get lost if you only see the final project. The live event aspect of Clay It Up allows students to showcase their talent in a different way. I simply started emailing teachers to see if they would be interested in a high school clay competition. It takes a lot of extra work, but it is worth it.”

  Clay it up is an opportunity for students to develop and show off the talents and techniques they have acquired over their highschool careers.

  “Clay It Up focuses on promoting ceramics education and enriching the clay experience for high school students,” according to the Clay It Up website. “This one of a kind day provides engaging opportunities and lifelong memories for future generations of makers. Clay It Up is a high school clay competitive and ceramics symposium to facilitate the growth of young ceramic artists and build the future clay community.”

  Senior Audrey Coorts, a ceramics level nine student, has participated in the visual arts since her freshman year.

  “I participate in Clay It Up because it’s fun and I like winning stuff,” Coorts said. “Last year I won second in individual handbuilding and first in the mixed schools handbuilding event.”

  There are judges at Clay It Up that give the students prompts in which they have to follow when brainstorming, creating and finishing their pieces.

  The judges give prompts for each timed event, the students have 80 minutes to create, then they name their work and the two judges make their decision on the winners,” Widel said. “The judges this year are Dyann Akkouche who is a Ceramic Artist and college professor at Northwest Missouri State and Laura Ashley who is a professional ceramic artist.”

  Schools participating in Clay It Up have to pay a fee in order to enter, the event is also sponsored by local businesses which helps to inevitably raise money for a 3D art scholarship.

  “I have always used this event to raise money for my 3D art scholarship,” Widel said. “Schools pay to participate and we also have sponsors from the community. This event is centered around helping the participating students. We have awards, demonstrating artists, experienced judges and colleges available for them to talk to. [Clay It Up] is open to the public which is great, but it impacts these students and allows them to not only showcase their talent, but collaborate with others, from their school and other schools, as well as being exposed and be part of the clay community.”