Grady High art student is driving force behind Atlanta Art Throwdown 2011

Is it Atlanta’s next great sporting event — or outstanding education? Judging from the response to the first-ever Atlanta Art Throwdown, the answer is both. Although the competition is serious, camaraderie, fun and learning from each other are the real winners. The brainchild of Grady High senior Perrin Turner, the Art Throwdown brings students from high schools across Atlanta to engage in a different kind of art competition.

Similar to a competitive reality show on television, each young artist is faced with a challenge: drawing when you can’t see your hands or the paper; drawing from live models; and working with a group of artists to construct a sculpture in 30 minutes or less. Student artists worked in front of an appreciative audience for the entire evening. Nationally recognized Atlanta artist Fahamu Pecou served as the official Art Throwdown judge.

“The idea is to bring high school artists together and really provide a live experience with visual art where friends, family, and the larger community can get a closer look at the creative process,” Turner said.

Participating high school artists also get hands-on experience geared towards the next level of artistic expression and learning, whether that means attending college or working in a professional environment. Turner hopes that the Art Throwdown will become a regular Atlanta event.

Hosted by the Janke Glass Studio at StudioPlex on Auburn Avenue, the Art Throwdown started at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan.  29. Teams from Grady High and North Atlanta High arrived to compete in both the individual and team contests.

After the drawing events inside Janke Glass Studio, the action moved outdoors to a field. Like a weekend football game, as the evening hours grew darker the floodlights came on and each  team  chose its materials, armed itself with tools, and launched into the final 30-minute challenge: make a free-standing sculpture that touches the ground in only three places and demonstrates technical and artistic excellence. North Atlanta’s team decided to include a real person as part of its sculpture.

After the drilling, hammering, and improvisation was over, Art Throwdown judge Peccou announced that the winning school was Grady High.

Please click the clips embedded in this link for videos of each event and interviews with Perrin Turner, Grady High art teacher John Brandhorst, and supporters of the Art Throwdown.

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