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March 2020 Artist of the Month

Madison Gutzkow

Madison Gutzkow has been named Royalton High School's March Artist of the Month. She is the daughter of Mary and Bill Gutzkow and also the Class of 2020's Co-Valedictorian. Gutzkow has excelled in academics for years, but with the level of competition that Royalton High School's Visual Arts Program has displayed over the years, she didn't figure on excelling in the visual arts as well. It wasn't until she "received" the message that high school Visual Art Instructor Carl Halverson had been teaching for many years, that she became passionate about her painting of the "Brain" became a "passion".  The effort then increased because she understood the personal reason why this project needed to be completed.

"Ever since I was young, I’ve noticed my older siblings bringing home their amazing artwork from Mr. Halverson’s class," said Gutzkow. "My dad also spends most of his free time doing silly little doodles on scrap pieces of paper. Seeing all of this at a young age, I developed a passion for all forms of art and creative expression, which has only grown stronger. Especially in the last year or so, I have surrounded myself with friends from all over who excel in various art fields and have really helped to deepen my appreciation and knowledge of art and the different careers possible. I love to paint and draw, and the act itself is an escape from everyday anxieties and stressors from school. I started drawing at a young age before moving on to primarily painting, but drawing still holds a special place in my heart and I try to continue developing my skills. Personally, I think art is just as, if not more, important than academics in some ways. There is so much to learn about the world and yourself in artwork, all you have to do is search for the meaning. My plan for the future is to someday open a bookstore where I can combine my love for learning with my passion for the arts by holding art galleries for local artists and hosting live local music since I believe supporting the artists around you is one of the most important things one can do. I set out to combine these two loves when I started the painting of a brain in the 9th grade. Mr. Halverson always encouraged us to put pieces of ourselves into our work, which is part of what makes our art program so great. Instead of painting something random, give the art a deeper meaning. I chose to paint a brain because I felt it represented my academic side well and at the time I was interested in biology. When I didn’t finish the painting during that class, I thought that was it. I tried to pick it up a few times in the 10th grade but I never made much progress. In 2018, my sister Alisha unexpectedly suffered a stroke and the brain painting became a passion project for her. It took 2 more years of on and off painting, and over 100 hours of work before I finally finished the piece this year. I credit Mr. Halverson for making the art room a comfortable place to be myself and refine my skills as an artist. Without his amazing life lessons and insights, I would be nowhere near the person I am today."

Royalton High School Art Instructor Carl Halverson said that usually, artists of the month recipients don't give him enough information to write their article. But this time, it was different. When he read the words that came from this artist, he just sat back and was humbled by the fact that "this young lady really received the message."  He then just copied and pasted it exactly how she sent it above.

"For years I have tried to teach kids that until their artwork becomes personal, extremely important, and a passion, that they may never finish their project at all," stated Halverson. "Every teacher hopes to teach a student to really understand this principle. Teachers teach their subject matter in such a way that it becomes a personal expression of why they chose to teach English, Science or yes, I'll say it, even Math!  I am passionate about teaching Art not because I love the subject matter. I love seeing their eyes light up when I tell a kid that his Grandpa sitting on his red or green tractor, is more important than just some paint, technically applied to a canvas.  You can try to express this idea in your classroom a million times it seems. In this case, Madison not only heard it, she received it.  After years, her painting of a brain, sat quietly, undisturbed, and gathered dust.  Then came the reason that over one hundred hours of effort was then meticulously invested to complete the painting. Her sister Alisha suffering a stroke took Madison's painting of a brain from showing her "interest in biology," to the level of   "this painting is a representation of the love that I feel for my sister and her struggle to live."  The painting literally went from her head, (brain), to her heart. It became a passionate, personal, heartfelt statement.  "The many letters, notes, and statements like the one above that I have received over the years are proof that some of these kids feel the same way that I do about things that are truly important. You gotta' have heART."

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