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Skyridge student receives awards at Utah All-State High School Art Show



Zoe Barrus, a senior at Skyridge High School, received two awards at the 52nd Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show. The show is open to entries from Utah public and private high school students in grades 11 and 12 across the state. 

Barrus received the Jurors’ Award of Merit for her pen and ink piece, “Imperfectionism.” This piece was Barrus’ first time working with a glass dipping pen. 

“The pen is made out of glass. The tip is made out of spirals. The pen is dipped in ink and it runs down the spirals as you use it. The thinness of the ink depends on how fast it is moved and how much pressure is applied on the paper,” said Barrus. “I wanted to use this specific medium for this piece because it is all about overcoming perfectionism. The unforgiving nature of the ink really helped me in the process as you cannot erase mistakes. I had to incorporate the flaws into my work. The piece wasn’t planned out or executed perfectly. It truly is imperfect.”  

Barrus created two drafts and then went to work on the final piece. She knew the hands needed to be a part of the final work and improvised other facets. 

“It was an interesting way to battle through perfectionism and rediscover self-love. Even with the mistakes that were made in the art piece, I was still able to create something beautiful and successful. I look at it and see flaws, but I also see the beauty in the piece,” said Barrus.

The piece is important to Barrus as it illustrates her journey in overcoming perfectionism and overextension in order to rediscover self-love. Being awarded for her work was a bonus. 

Barrus was also awarded the Student Cultural Champion award for her second art piece, “The Women Who Came Before Me.” This piece is an acrylic on canvas and reflects the artistic influence of Barrus’ grandmother who was a watercolor artist, and her mother, an academic quiltmaker. 

“I wanted to create a watercolor look in this piece with acrylics with my grandmother because she was a prolific watercolor artist in her time. In this art, my grandmother is wearing the last art piece she painted. You also see my mom in the work, I clad her in log cabin quilt blocks. This required a lot of tape work, painting, blow drying the paint, and painting again. The process took me three hours. This type of quilt block is my mom’s favorite and I wanted to incorporate things that represented both of them, as well as their careers, because they have greatly influenced my art,” said Barrus.


“The third person in the piece is me and does not have a discernible form, because I am being shaped by the women in my life who came before me,” she added. “This piece was created to pay tribute to my grandma and mom and to recognize the importance of women in the arts and show my artistry is more than me, it’s a compilation of all these other bold women.”

Barrus feels that her grandmother is with her when she is creating art. Her mother is an academic quilter and is working on her PhD. She draws on their strength to create pieces of art. 

Barrus has learned different mediums in the classroom. Her AP art teacher, Doug Larsen has been inspirational in Barrus’ pieces. 

“Mr. Larsen is fabulous. He offers so many different mediums in the classroom and is open to students learning and suggesting new mediums to learn,” said Barrus. 

With the acrylic on canvas piece, Barrus was invited to the Capitol building to participate in the Cultural Industry Advocacy Day. Her art was shown to legislators who support the art industry and there she received her award. 

“This was the first year that a high school student’s piece was selected for the Cultural Champion Award, and I feel so grateful,” said Barrus. 

Barrus also returned to the Capitol building a second time with other student artists who received awards in the high school art show. Lt. Governor Henderson presented the Jurors’ Award of Merit to Barrus. The winners were also recognized in the State House and Senate. 

As a child, Barrus was interested in art and always creating. Art offered her solace and peace.


“Art is a means to tune out the world and offers silence to focus, when putting a brush to a paper I have meditative clarity that I cannot find anywhere else. It is healing to me,” said Barrus. 

Barrus will continue studying art at Brigham Young University in the fall and aspires to become a studio artist. Her art teacher at Skyridge High School has been influential in her work. 

“My AP art teacher, Mr. Larsen, is one of my favorite teachers. He teaches without suffocating and helps his students open creative doors that we didn’t know were there. He shows different mediums and helps you feel confident in trying new things. He values individual progression and this has been crucial to my work as an artist,” said Barrus. 

The Utah All-State High School Art Show is on public display at the Springville Museum of Art from Feb. 3 to March 22. The art show features 330 works of art from over 100 high schools in Utah, including that of Barrus. Admission is free and donations are appreciated.

“As a student who wants to make art a career, I feel very grateful for these opportunities and for those who support the arts. Recognition of the arts is important. Arts should be valued as they contribute to society. Art is in fabric and in print and in the hallways you walk through and the buildings you enter, art is literally everywhere and should be appreciated. It renders a human connection and allows you to feel,” said Barrus.

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