Hunter Zenger, in fifth grade at Camp Sawyer Elementary School, has been selected by Sargent Art for his self portrait as the winner of the Best of Iowa. In January, Hunter received an award as the top elementary piece in the Iowa Youth Art Month show. The Iowa Youth Art Month Show selected one piece by an elementary student, one piece by a middle school student, and two pieces by high school students. Sargent Art then announces one of the four student works as the Best of Iowa piece. Hunter’s piece has been selected as that piece. This honor entitles Hunter to an an all expense-paid trip to New York in July with a parent and his art teacher, Laurie Olk.

While in New York City, Hunter will be recognized at an awards banquet along with 28 other young artists from across the United States. Their trip includes tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the World Trade Center Memorial, Rockefeller Center along with attending a Broadway Show and having a Harbor Ferry Tour around the Statue of Liberty. .

Bhakti Oza, who announced Hunter’s award on behalf of Sargent Art, said each time she sees the artwork that the students of America produce she is more humbled than before.

“To be able to give one’s imagination a tangible appearance is a unique gift as well as exceptional skill—and the guidance of an involved educator takes (Hunter and Ms. Olk)  to a distinctive level,” she said.

In an interview with the Ames Tribune, Hunter said his winning artwork was a self portrait inspired by the art style of Amedeo Modigliani, made in layers of cardboard pieces, all painted with oil pastels. His favorite part, he said was “how one eye was bigger than the other.”Hunter Zenger

Olk said Modigliani’s work often featured slanted or crooked faces, and Zenger said he liked using the style on his own face.

Olk said many of her students have received state and national awards and she credits them for their inner vision and work ethic.

“It is the highest honor and privilege to work with our students, families and especially the Sawyer Team,” she said. “This village knows how to raise kids!”