Print Haley Backus' art wins top Yavapai County Fair prize
Written by Greg Ruland   
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 00:00

Charcoal renderings of the human body by a Mingus Union High School sophomore dominated the 2011 Yavapai County Fair Student Art Competition, MUHS fine arts instructor Tyler Novak said.

Soft-spoken and a bit shy, Haley Backus appeared shocked by all the fuss over the Superintendent’s Ribbon she received from county fair judges for being the best overall student artist.

Haley Backus, a sophomore at Mingus Union High School, talks Thursday, Oct. 6, about the work she put into a piece on the human form which recently captured the Superintendent’s Award at the Yavapai County Fair in Prescott.Her winning drawing of a woman’s legs, arms and midriff flexed at a dramatic angle showed the subject’s rippling six pack in subtle hues of red and gray.

“It was a class project on the human body,” she said. “I had to scramble to get it matted and entered on the same day.”

Novak said his class believed the county fair was canceled for lack of a venue this year, but then discovered at the last minute the art show was a go and had to rush to pull together their entries.

“In true Mingus fashion we rallied and were able to enter 31 pieces into the fair, quite a bit less than we normally would,” Novak said.

Of the 31 works entered, 29 received ribbons, he said.

Backus started drawing in eighth grade and wants to continue working and learning as an artist through her senior year and into college.

She doesn’t know yet what employment she might pursue, but she knows fine art will be an important part of her future.

At age 15, completing a work of art is more than a satisfying accomplishment.

“When I’m upset, I usually go on the computer to find a picture that I can draw,” she said, explaining how art can be a comfort when the sometimes confusing difficulties of teen life arise.

Backus wasn’t the only MUHS student artist to win praise at the fair. Students won rosettes in grades nine through 12 for beginning drawing, advanced painting, coil constructed ceramics and hand-built clay sculpture. Rosettes are awarded for overall superiority in a competition category.

“Our students also won first-place ribbons in advanced oil painting, acrylic painting, beginning and advanced mixed media, beginning charcoal/conte, beginning pastel, beginning colored pencil, and beginning graphite,” Novak said. “We also took many of the second- and third-place ribbons in these categories.”

Backus won additional recognition for her work from Yavapai Community College in Clarkdale, which is currently displaying three of her works, along with three of Novak’s, as part of teacher/student exhibit.

The college also exhibited three works of art from Novak’s students Jason Teague, Genevieve Alagna, Sarah Latham Makenzie Mabery. The show ended Friday, Oct. 7, Novak said.

Currently, MUHS art students are also exhibiting in the Clark Memorial Library through October with an extensive mix of drawings, paintings and ceramics.

“This is a testament to not only our students’ work ethic, but their talent as well,” Novak said. “We currently are displaying more works of student art in the month of September than ever before, and the work continues to grow and improve. I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful community of students and young artists.”

MUHS students are busy creating art for several upcoming events, including Walkin’ on Main, Sedona Fine Arts Festival and a Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce mixer.