West's Deal takes top spot in Wickford Art Association contest

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For the second year in a row, a Cranston High School West senior has won the Wickford Art Association’s annual Scholarship Program Competition.

Arianna Deal took first place in the contest, winning a $1,500 scholarship, a gallery exhibit night and the opportunity to exhibit her art during this summer’s 57th annual Wickford Art Festival, to be held July 13-14. Deal will share the booth with second-prize winner Chase Goulet, a senior at North Kingstown High School.

Valerie Bruzzi-Krsulic, an art educator at Cranston West, nominated Deal for the award. To be considered, each student had to submit a portfolio of five pieces of art, all of which were on display during the gallery night held in Wickford on March 1. Also present at the gallery event were two of Deal’s past art educators, Heidi Copeman and Jean Carmody.

Although only five pieces were required for the competition, Deal said she has approximately 30 pieces at home. She noted that 25 pieces are the typical amount required for a college portfolio.

“The bottle picture is my favorite piece because it is most like me,” she said, speaking about one of the five pieces on display at the gallery event. “When I was little, I always wanted to make a piece that looked exactly like me, and I’ve finally done it.”

Deal also noted that the piece was extremely challenging because it was done completely with colored pencils.

According to Bruzzi, she was confident that Deal had what it took to win the competition.

“The work we do at West is not what you typically see in other high schools,” she said. “When you walk through the halls of our school and see the artwork that is on display there, it’s like walking through the halls of a college gallery, and it even goes beyond the work of a college freshman class.”

Bruzzi noted that Deal is an AP art student and is president of the National Art Honor Society chapter at Cranston West.

When asked about her future ambitions, Deal responded that she plans to pursue graphic design and to incorporate computer science and web design in her career path. She is also a student at the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center, or CACTC, where she studies interactive digital media.

The competition and gallery event are supported by the Rhode Island Art Education Association. The March 1 gathering featured multiple speakers, including Judy Salvadore, the association’s gallery director; Gerry Grabowski, the association’s president; Mia Thompson, representing RIAEA; state Sen. James C. Sheehan; North Kingstown Town Council President Greg Mancini; North Kingstown Town Councilor Stacy Elliot; state Rep. Robert Craven; and Peter Geisser, RIAEA past president.

In addition to Deal’s award, Emily Fontes, a senior at Cranston High School East, was one of four students awarded an honorable mention in the competition. She was not present at the awards ceremony. 

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