Chippewa Valley High School senior Amalia Rizza-Forton won the National Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key award for her custom ceramic clock.

Chippewa Valley High School senior Amalia Rizza-Forton won the National Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key award for her custom ceramic clock.

Photo submitted by Diane Blain

Local student wins national art award for ceramic clock

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 3, 2018

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Heading into her senior year, Chippewa Valley High School student Amalia Rizza-Forton knew she wanted a final ceramics art project she wouldn’t forget.

After all, Rizza-Forton had survived cancer in third grade and, after graduation, she is headed to Wayne State University to enter a pre-medical program. So the 19-year-old wanted her final project as a higher schooler to be the culmination of her journey.

But even she couldn’t anticipate it would end up being a 5-foot ceramic and wood clock that earned Rizza-Forton the National Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key, as well as the American Visions & Voices Medal as one of the best art pieces in the region.

“I came up with the idea sporadically in the middle of the summer, as I wanted a piece ready to work on when I was going back to school and to work on it for awhile,” Rizza-Forton said. “I did not intend at all for it to be this big elaborate thing. I thought it would be something I work on for a couple months and take home and hang up, but it ended up bigger than that.”

Named “A Pattern in Time,” a play on “A Wrinkle in Time,” Rizza-Forton’s project took nearly all four months from the start of school last September until the deadline to enter her project for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

The awards, presented by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, recognizes student artists nationwide. The first round is the regional awards, in which Rizza-Forton’s piece won a Gold Key in the ceramics and glass category, qualifying her automatically for the national awards.

Rizza-Forton said she has made mirrors and vases, but was looking for something that was unique for her senior year and something that others in her class hadn’t made yet. She started by drawing sketches and looking into clock mechanisms to see if it was possible.

The project entailed staining the wood base, rolling patterns on the individual tiles and doing individual detail work and glazing. Rizza-Forton said she knew it was a good piece, but was still surprised when she saw she won the national award.

“I was pretty shocked,” Rizza-Forton said. “There was a little disbelief that I actually won. I had to tell everyone and the principal came down and congratulated me.”

Because the piece is so large, a picture of it will be framed and shown off at Carnegie Hall in New York City this summer. Rizza-Forton said she will not be making the trip to New York to receive her award in person.

Having grown up around art, Rizza-Forton said it made sense to join the ceramics club her freshman year after a friend asked her to. From there, she went on to take ceramics every year.

Rizza-Forton said she could tell she had a knack at ceramics because of how well her pieces turned out early on without much technique. She won her first regional award as a sophomore while in her first ceramics class.

Chippewa Valley ceramics and jewelry teacher Natalie Warner said she knew Rizza-Forton’s clock would be special when she first saw the design. Warner said she was a little worried in the beginning because of the scope of the work, but had faith Rizza-Forton could pull it off.

Looking at the final product and knowing how much critical thinking had to go in to planning the piece further proves to Warner how great of an artist Rizza-Forton is.

“Amalia strikes me as one of the most impressive students I have ever had because of how capable she is,” Warner said. “She seems beyond a high schooler, as there is a maturity to her and she is extremely intelligent. For her, I think this will be a small thing in her life and she will achieve much bigger things.”

Over the next couple of months, Rizza-Forton will turn her attention toward preparing to study psychology at Wayne State. She became interested in entering the medical field after battling a Wilms tumor when she was 8.

But for now, she has to figure out where to store her bigger-than-expected, award-winning clock.

“I think I will take it home and put it in my dining room,” Rizza-Forton said. “Each table in our house has a piece of my artwork on it, so it will be displayed too.”