Shelby Junior High artist earns National Gold Medal, trip to New York

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby-Utica News | Published June 7, 2023

 Addison Oleksinski’s ceramic sculpture  titled “Skinned” recently received a National Gold Medal through this year’s Scholastic  Art and Writing Awards.

Addison Oleksinski’s ceramic sculpture titled “Skinned” recently received a National Gold Medal through this year’s Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Photo provided by Tim McAvoy


UTICA/SHELBY TOWNSHIP/STERLING HEIGHTS — Addison Oleksinski has been making moves with her art creations ever since she was a little kid. Now, she is one of the youngest students to earn national scholastic honors and a trip to Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Her ceramic sculpture titled “Skinned” received a National Gold Medal in this year’s Scholastic Art and Writing Awards after it won top honors at a regional competition in March. Oleksinski just finished the ninth grade.

The piece has been added to Scholastic’s online gallery and Oleksinski has been invited to participate in the national ceremony June 8 at Carnegie Hall.

Oleksinski said it feels great to have people appreciate the effort and time it took to make a sculpture this big.

“I am surprised and am proud that others think I am good at this. This is open to any student in America, and I thought it was really cool that I was a freshman and I won the award. At first, I was excited about creating something so eye-catching and grotesque, but after the first two months it became really exhausting. Because it was so big, I actually had to build it in sections and then sculpt it together, which made it take longer,” she said via email.

The sculpture is 1.5 feet tall and weighs 20 pounds. The bust took almost four months to complete with work done during and after school.

The idea originated in conversations between Shelby Junior High School art teacher Christopher Brunson and Oleksinski and shows a person pulling off part of their face.

Brunson said any junior high student entering artwork into Scholastic is competing against juniors and seniors in high school.

“So getting the initial acceptance into the regional Scholastic Art awards is difficult enough; making it to national adjudication and winning a National Gold Medal is a monumental accomplishment,” he said in an email.

He said thousands of students entered the same competition.

“The scale of the Scholastic competition was immense; of the more than 260,000 works of art submitted by roughly 100,000 students from across the country, less than 2,000 received a National Medal. This makes Addison’s sculpture among the top 1% of all works submitted. I am incredibly proud of Addison for having achieved such a distinguished feat,” he said.

Oleksinski said in a press release that the sculpture “shows someone who has really felt the harsh realities of the world and feels that the only action they can take to truly escape and be free of it all is to rip off their own skin.”

Oleksinski said she plans to go to college and pursue a career in art.

“I like to express myself through a hands-on craft. I think it is fun to create this thing from scratch and see how it comes together” she stated in the press release.