Profile by Emily Gahafer, Fund for the Arts Intern


Last month students from all over Greater Louisville had the chance to compete in the Scholastic Art Awards by submitting their most accomplished art pieces. The awards are designed to reward students, “demonstrating the highest levels of originality, technique, and personal vision.” The awards consist of regional gold and silver keys and national gold and silver medals as well as superlatives for categories such as best crafted.

We had the privilege of sitting down with one of the winners, Rosie Sullivan, a junior at PRP, to discuss her accomplishment and plans for the future. Sullivan is an extremely well rounded student excelling in advanced placement classes while participating in a number of extracurricular activities including softball and student government as a class officer. She never had much of a passion for art until entering high school where she was randomly placed in an art class and immediately fell in love.

“It’s like a release almost, you get lost in it, you get lost in your work and that’s what I like about it,” Sullivan said. “I like that you can just do whatever you want with your own hands.”

Sullivan has taken art classes every year of high school, but found her passion in ceramics.

“I could never draw, so I thought maybe I could do something with my hands and that’s what inspired me,” she said.


Many artists take their inspirations and artistic way of thinking into their every day lives. Sullivan is no different, even when playing softball she uses this creative thinking process to become the best player she can be. She says people who deploy this way of thinking in their daily lives have an advantage over others.

“In softball you have to throw a basic throw, but then you can put your own spin on it afterwards. You can do different things, but there’s always that basic starting point. So when I built that, I made the basic teapot or the basic throw and then I put my own spin on it and made it better than everyone else’s.”

Creating a piece worthy of a Scholastic Gold Key Art Award is no small task. Sullivan spent three months creating Mystical Mirror, the piece that would go on to win the award. She explained the detailed process of creating Mystical Mirror,


“I made a small circle out of the clay and took coils as big as your pinky and wrapped them around and up and up and up until I had the shape I wanted, and then smoothed it out. To put the feet on you have to have the piece upside down for about two weeks, otherwise it will just fall apart because it’s wet clay. The ball on top was just part of a necklace, it was a bulky necklace that I just thought was so cool. Then the cane handle we had to soak it in water because it doesn’t bend easily and then mold it into a handle. It’s a lot of little things all in one.”

Her hard work paid off when last month she learned she had won a Scholastic Gold Key Art Award along with a superlative for best crafted. She was thrilled to see her work on display in KMAC.

“I had never won anything before. Then when they told me I won one of the five highest honors, I could have done cartwheels,” Sullivan said. “You think of like Van Gough and all of that, and they’re in museums and that’s so cool and then people come and see mine. People don’t know who I am, but they know my piece won.”

Sullivan doesn’t plan to stop here. When asked about what she plans to do as a future career, it was no surprise to hear her say she wants to be an art teacher and share her skills and passion with kids.

“I don’t want to give this up. It seems like I worked for something and I don’t want to just drop it,” Sullivan said.

We also had a chance to speak with Sullivan’s art teacher at PRP, Tammy Podbelsek, who had nothing but praise for Sullivan’s work and growth.

“The first year she had me she really had very little to no experience in clay and then she took off very quickly, liked it a lot, tried hard, and every year has developed, Podbelsek said. “Particularly the first half of this year she really blossomed, you could tell that her work took on a new level.”

While Sullivan may not have been completely certain she would win the Scholastic Gold Key Art Award, Podbelsek had no question in her mind. Her hard work, dedication, and attention to detail led Podbelsek to believe she would have no problem winning a Gold Key.

“It was just high quality, I thought it was really creative, I liked the concept, and she had great craftsmanship. The piece just had unity, sometimes parts of it are good, but I thought the whole thing was well done,” Podbelsek said. “I did expect her to win, I have to be honest, I was like, ‘this is amazing, it’s an amazing piece.’”

We expect to see nothing but great things from Sullivan in the future.

“I look forward to seeing what she does in the future, and I hope she continues art in some form, even if it’s not for a career,” Podbelsek said. “I think it’s a passion that’s inside of her and I think she’s really good at it. “

Award 1

Student Name: Sarah Kim

School Name: duPont Manual High School

Title of Artwork: Asian Market

Superlative Award Name: Curator’s Choice Award

Award 2

Student Name: Morgan Betsill

School Name: duPont Manual High School

Title of Artwork: Jasmine

Superlative Award Name: Visitors’ Choice Award

Award 3

Student Name: Charlie Bosco

School Name: duPont Manual High School

Title of Artwork: We Built This House Ourselves

Superlative Award Name: Most Relevant

Award 4

Student Name: Rosie Sullivan

School Name: Pleasure Ridge Park High School

Title of Artwork: Mystical Mirror

Superlative Award Name: Best Crafted

Award 5

Student Name: Rose Korte

School Name: Floyd Central High School

Title of Artwork: Rose’s Thorns

Superlative Award Name: Most Unique

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