eXcel Awards at the Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair, hosted by the Hoosier state’s capitol city, is in full swing; this year the eXcel Awards recognize young artists from across the state. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance has taken the Grand Hall by storm to present the work of talented Indiana high school students. This Indiana State Fair event in Indianapolis is a must see.

I walked into the Grand Hall with a belly full of roasted corn and fried green tomatos from the great Indiana vendors that line the Indiana State Fairgrounds streets. Instantly the sculptural work of high school students who were finalists for the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance eXcel Awards caught my eye.

The first piece I gravitated to was by Carl Roll of Floyd Central High School in New Albany, Indiana. His representation of the American Flag, called “A Nation Compromised” is done entirely with matchboxes and makes a powerful statement. On a near by television with interviews of all of the finalists, Carl discussed his inspiration. The matchboxes, 156 of them, still contained all of their matches. At any moment this extremely flammable piece could go up in flames. With written words on missing blocks of the flag such as war, greed, unemployment, hatred etc., Roll’s piece depicts a fragile nation.

Another finalist, Alicia Hopkins, presented a stunningly textural piece called “Appearence vs. Reality.” Hopkins of Columbus East High School in Columbus, Indiana clearly put a lot of time and effort into this piece. Masks emerge from a sandy background, the focal point being a mask at eye level with mirrors, which reflect her audiences own eyes. In Hopkins’ words each face is a person, “someone who is not appearing as they really are.” Her intentions is strong as is the impact. She cleverly reflects back a statement about the people viewing her art, causing her audience to question their own sense of reality.

The last finalists presented a piece called, “Tree of Life.” Joseph Stephens and Joshua Wotoweic, of Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, collaborated to create a tree that seems to be sprouting arms and legs. The idea of seeing yourself in nature is not lost on these young Indianapolis art fanatics. Using mixed media, they cleverly put their own spin on trees that have come to life in great fiction such as The Wizard of Oz and the tree that attacks the famed wizard Harry Potter.

The eXcel Awards at the Indiana State Fair offer up a slice of the talent among Indianapolis kids and beyond. Do not miss this Indiana State Fair event. The Indiana State Fair is the pinnacle of Indianapolis fairs and festivals all years. In the Grand Hall of the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indiana education is showcased through the work of these talented young artists. Check it out!