Friday, June 20, 2014

Art Contest – Teen Winners, Midsummer 2014

This year's entries in the teen division of the Midsummer Art Contest were incredibly strong. These young artists are really quite impressive! It's interesting that they come from diverse locations around the world, yet they are all inspired by Norse mythology to create such original works.

Joris during his years with Heidevolk
We were finally able to sort out the technical issues that prevented Joris van Gelre from judging the kids' division, and he was able to study the teen entries and weigh in on the judging with Joanne Harris and myself. I'm very glad that we managed to finally make this happen.

I would like to thank both Joris and Joanne for the time they freely spent considering the artwork, reading the artists' descriptions of their entries, and doing the difficult task of ranking all the pieces. With so many wonderful young artists submitting their work, judging wasn't easy!

The three winners in the teen category show how the wonderful heritage of the Norse myths continues to spark the creativity of young artists across great distances of time and space. These three artworks are very different from each other in subject matter and approach, but the beauty of the old traditions shines through each one in a wonderfully unique way.

If you haven't seen the kids' division winners yet, check them out by clicking here.

Note: You can click on the art to see larger versions.

Eric Matzner
Age 19
Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada

Erik has written a wonderful description of his work:
This painting shows a Midsummer's Eve celebration out near the water. The people are dancing and having a good time. In the background can be seen the fields with crops growing up in a bountiful harvest and the longships waiting to go out for trade and plunder. These symbolize the beginning of the summer months, but also the slow descent of the sun back to winter, when the crops and raided goods will be needed to make it through the harsh northern winters. 
Árvakr and Alsvidr can also be seen riding across the sky. The sun is safe from the wolf Sköll, as the sun is at its highest and farthest from danger. The horses trod on with no worries of the wolf. The fire is being held at a special spot – the old oak tree, ash bushes and large runestone can all attest to the sanctity of this rock outcrop into the ocean.
In a rare case of complete agreement, all three judges independently placed Eric's piece in first place. This is truly a wonderful work, and it is at once original in conception and reminiscent of midsummer scenes painted by the great Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup. Fantastic!

First Place: Eric Matzner

Nordhild Siglinde Wetzler
Age 15
Korsberga, Sweden

Nordhild submitted a very personal and very creative explanation of her piece:
I chose to draw the most fun part of midsummer – the celebration. 
In Sweden, people dance around the maypole, which they first decorate with greens and flowers. Here, I choose to let them dance about the warmth of the bonfire itself instead. I've included several traditions like feasting, dancing, the symbol of fertility, pagan stone circles, and collecting a certain number of flowers to put under your pillow to see whom you will marry. 
Midsummer was believed to be a time with high magical activity, and Christian priests feared the Devil had more power than during the rest of the year to tempt people. I wanted to show that they were exactly right. People here do dance with supernatural beings like elves and sprites – and celebrate life. Something the little priest hiding behind the tree doesn't like…
Nordhild won second place in the Midwinter 2013 contest. Her entry then had the same sense of night and magic that this new piece does. This young artist certainly has a wonderful spirit!

Second Place: Nordhild Siglinde Wetzler

Christina Bountona
Age 18
Perea, Thessaloniki, Greece

From a southern land of ancient myths, Christina sends an explanation of her artwork's inspiration by a northern land of legendary sagas:
The drawing presents the preparing of the midsummer celebration. In the distance there can be seen human figures carrying wood to their village in order to light up the bonfire. The landscape (rocks, waterfall, cliffs) is based on a real location in Iceland (Þingvellir National Park). In the front, there is the figure of the Allfather, watching the people reviving the old traditions.
Christina really captures the sense of history and the spiritual essence of this wonderful landscape. She is a truly impressive artist, and I am very curious where her creative travels will take her!

Third Place: Christina Bountona

Adult winners will be announced tomorrow!

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