Seven Prep ceramics students were finalists in the American Museum of Ceramic Art’s (AMOCA) annual juried show, with five students receiving awards for their works. After receiving over 270 submissions from 27 high schools across the region, AMOCA’s panel of judges selected 74 finalists for the Southern California High School Ceramics Exhibition, including Noe Tamura ’20, Milla Durfee ’20, Lucas Pierce ’21, Dylan Mealey ’22, Camille Pai ’22, and Taylor Torres ’23.
The annual show usually has an exciting opening night at the AMOCA location in Pomona, but given the COVID-19 outbreak, the event was held virtually on May 2 and the exhibit will be online through the end of May.
This year, a total of 11 pieces from Prep students were selected for the show. Mealey, Pai, Durfee, and Tamura received Honorable Mention awards for their class years, and, for the first time, a Best in Show award went to Pierce in the Class of 2021 category.
The jurors consider artworks in three categories based on graduating class year and award points based on technique, design, form, and color; works also receive additional points for creativity, concept, and narrative.
Each year, ceramics teacher Biliana Popova submits student work to the AMOCA show. She notes that AMOCA strives to be inclusive in its selection process and focuses on highlighting and supporting young artistic talent in the region. This year’s submissions were a 30% increase over last year’s show, demonstrating that the event is getting bigger each time.
“The quality of pieces is so astonishing this year,” says Popova. “I have a very strong group of students and they received the recognition they deserved. Just being part of the show is a recognition itself because of the amount and quality of submissions this year. The fact that we got so many awards speaks to how strong Prep students work is, and now we have a Best in Show for Lucas.”
Pierce’s piece, Untitled, is a stunning work that Popova says entailed an incredibly lengthy and elaborate process. “His work required him to fire four or five times, which typically with any artwork, you would fire twice,” she says. “It was all done to preserve the work, which made it easier for him to do all the fine detailing, gold luster, and gold leaf.”
Two senior ceramics students, Durfee and Tamura, were awarded Honorable Mention for their works: Durfee’s Geometric Plates and Tamura’s Tea Set.
“They’re extremely talented girls and very hard working. I was so extremely happy to see them get the recognition,” Popova shares. “Again, these are self-directed projects. They're a continuation on other things they've worked on before. For Milla, she has been working on geometric patterns over periods of time and it requires a huge concentration and a lot of patience. Noe, she’s constantly exploring and learning. this is a project she researched, designed, and problem-solved all on her own.”
“What’s very unique about my 11th and 12th graders is that they tell me what they want to learn and what they want to make,” she says. “I will give them tools and the help they need to get there.”
You can watch the full awards ceremony and view the entire exhibit until May 31, 2020 on AMOCA’s website.