At 13, Claire Marshall has won a gold medal in a national art contest and has been honored at Carnegie Hall, and she is poised to try it again.
“I want to take things you wouldn't normally use and use it in a unique way,” she said.
Claire was one of 10 Delaware students named national winners for the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards – the only middle school student from Delaware.
The annual contest, which began in 1923 has previously recognized young winners with names such as Andy Warhol, Robert Redford and Stephen King.
Students have more than a dozen categories in which they can enter; writing and painting are two of the most popular. A fan of three-dimensional design, Claire chose jewelry, and she made a necklace for her entry.
She started out with an idea to make a necklace based on an eyeball design.
“It just kind of evolved from there,” she said.
A fan of using everyday material to construct her art, Claire used two packages of small, metal washers for her necklace design.
“I liked the roundness with the holes in the center,” Claire said in describing her asymetrical design. “I found a nice point and made that work up my neck.”
It took a couple of tries to find something to attach the washers to each other – sewing did not work, so she settled on silver duct tape to hold the circular pieces together. A larger washer with a soda-can tab used as a clasp finished the piece with a dramatic affect.
“It's part of the statement of the necklace,” Claire said.
Claire said she began work on the necklace after Christmas break; she entered the work in the regional contest in January and won a gold pin award later that month. The necklace went on display at Delaware State University with about 80 other regional winners.
In March, Claire learned she was one of 10 students statewide selected for the national award. She was the only student from Sussex County and the only middle school student in the state to win the honor.
Kat Hendrix, associate executive director of programs for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, said in a letter congratulating Claire that about 255,000 works of art and writing were submitted by students in grades 7-12 this year.
“Earning a National Medal places you within the top 1 percent of all submissions,” she said.
It's an honor she has her mother, Michelle Marshall, to thank for.
“I knew about the contest because I entered it when I was in high school,” Marshall said.
Marshall won a regional award for her painting of the Lewes landscape after her teacher at Cape Henlopen High School helped her enter.
It was an experience she knew she wanted her daughter to have. Sharing contest information with a teacher at Eagle's Nest Christian School, Marshall helped Claire enter along with some classmates.
Marshall said she was thrilled when she heard that Claire won the National medal.
“It's an exciting event,” Marshall said. “We went to Carnegie Hall for an awards ceremony, and Nick Cannon was the emcee.”
Claire said they spent three days in New York City – a trip that included tours of art and design schools and an art prom in addition to the big awards ceremony.
“It was really cool, really amazing,” Claire said of her whirlwind experience.
Seeing her necklace on display, under lights in a glass case, was surreal, she said.
“It looked like mine, but it was weird seeing it in New York,” she said.
That may be the last time she sees her necklace for awhile. Winning art pieces are traveling across the country as part of an art show. Claire said it may be a year or two before it returns to her.
“I guess it'll just show up one day,” she said.
Now homeschooled, Claire stays busy playing basketball, softball and swimming. She also takes acting classes at Clear Space and has learned pottery and painting at Rehoboth Art League.
Claire is already contemplating what to enter next year. She might even enter more than one category, she said.
“I'm thinking about it,” she said. “But it might not be jewelry.”