Avon Old Farms Wins Big at Annual Art Awards


Avon Old Farms Wins Big at Annual Art Awards

Avon Old Farms Wins Big at Annual Art Awards

Avon Old Farms has always been a place that provides boys freedom for creative expression through the arts. In the last decade, our visual arts department has become the pinnacle of artistic achievement, and an assemblage of the most award-winning students in the region. The 2024 awards have only built on Avon's reputation of excellence.  

First announced this year were the annual Connecticut Scholastic Art Awards, which is the top art competition in our state. Student artwork from public and private schools is juried by professional artists and university art faculty and is selected on merit for inclusion in a state-wide art exhibition held at the Hartford Art School. Beyond the honor of being selected for this high-quality exhibit, students may be awarded Gold or Silver keys and Honorable Mention awards.

This year, over 2,600 artworks were submitted from more than 2,200 students in four categories: portfolio, sculpture, drawing, and photography. Only a handful of these submissions were selected for the exhibit, and an even smaller portion received additional awards. Even with such a selective process, 13 Avon Old Farms students received a total number of 20 awards, and the breadth of artwork they created made us #1 in all of Connecticut. 

The award-winning students for this particular competition were:

Owen Callaghan: Honorable Mention and Silver Key
Derrick Li: Three Gold Keys, Silver Key, and Best in Portfolio
Wonjae Cho: Two Gold Keys and Best in Sculpture
Ian Choi: Silver Key
Kenny Wang: Gold Key
Pearce Powers: Silver Key
Isaiah Agyekum: Honorable Mention
Spencer Parish: Honorable Mention
Joel Taylor: Gold Key
Lawson Byrnes: Two Gold Keys
Chris Bowers: Two Gold Keys and the CAEA Judges Award
Liam Park: Gold Key
August Alexander: Gold Key 

While Derrick Li, who has received many awards for his artwork in the past, earned the award for best portfolio in the entire gallery, he expressed his pride at simply being included among the other talented artists throughout the state. "Some of the other work that gets selected is so good, really amazing stuff. It's nice to be included with other art of that caliber." 

At a Morning Meeting in January, Visual Arts Department Chair Cristina Pinton congratulated all the artists for this feat. "I want to congratulate and acknowledge these boys for hard work, their passion, and their willingness to create and think outside the box. We are proud of you." 

This success was followed by another impressive haul from the 2024 UMass Dartmouth Emerging Young Artists + Designers Juried Exhibition. More than 800 students from all over New England submitted artwork where less than 200 works were selected to be in the exhibition. Avon had the most students selected for exhibition than any other school in New England, with 13. The winning students are listed below: 

Jordan Weaver
Chenfeng Yan
Derrick Li
Henry Watson
Isaiah Agyekumi
Jackson Dellacamera
Jameson Foglesong
Jordan Lee
Max Neidhardt
Owen Callaghan
Rohens Xu
Weilun Luo
Zachary Pia


Freshman Isaiah Agyekumi earned third place out of all submissions for his charcoal/ink drawing, "Mysterious Blue Boy." Isaiah says he never really participated much in arts classes before coming to Avon, and is pleasantly surprised at all the success he's already achieved. "It definitely feels good to be chosen," Isaiah says. "I never did much art before, but I just jumped into it here. Now I think I'll take more art classes."

This isn't necessarily a unique experience. Many Avonians come to the Farm with little to no arts experience or interest. Then, after just a few months of instruction with art faculty Pinton, Semaj Campbell, or Greg Calibey, an interest has been ignited. This was the case for award-winning senior Owen Callaghan, who now finds himself at home in the Estabrook Fine Arts building. "At first it was just to take an art class, but now I really like it. I genuinely enjoy coming to class. Working on these pieces is relaxing for me."  

Of course, winning awards is an added bonus. "Yeah, it feels good to win," Callaghan says. "One of the competitions I won $300. That especially feels good." 

In the Drexel High School Photo contest, the region's top competition for photography, Avon students again were well represented. This year, the school's top representative was Chris Bowers '24, who earned an honorable mention and was ranked in top six images out of 2,000+ photos entered. 

The past several years have shown that no matter the medium—paint, photography, sculpture, etc.—the Avon arts are a treasure trove of talent. Even based on awards alone, Avon is at the very top. “We’ve been top for a few years at this point,” Pinton says. “I’m really proud of the boys this year.”