With the end of the school year quickly approaching, check out 3 ways to celebrate your art students with end-of-year art awards. Although this isn’t a necessary way to wrap the school year, offering end-of-year art awards is a great way to highlight hardworking students and promote your art program. Check out how I celebrate students while teaching high school art, and easily adapt for middle or elementary art students.
1: A Simple Certificate
The easiest way to recognize students is with a simple certificate. You could select one student from the art program or one per class to recognize. My art department opted to choose works of art at our annual art show to recognize. We had 12 categories students could win, which allowed us to recognize a wide range of artists and art styles. Our award categories included:
- Best in Show: Overall strongest work of art across media
- Andy Warhol Award: Strongest graphic style and imagery
- Ansel Adams Award: Strongest photograph
- Frida Khalo Award: Best choice of subject matter
- Georgia O’Keeffe Award: Best overall painting
- Jeff Koons Award: Best overall sculpture
- Leonardo da Vinci Award: Most inventive work of art
- M.C. Escher Award: Best overall drawing
- Pablo Picasso Award: Most creative work of art
- Robert Arneson Award: Best overall artwork made from clay
- Van Gogh Award: Best use of color
- Voter’s choice: Voted on by attendees of the art show
Even if you don’t host an art show, you can still recognize students from your program using these categories. Which art students were hardworking, engaged, and enthusiastic? Recognize the whole artist, not just the finished product.
2: Art Award Signage
Publicly recognize these students by labeling the winning works of art with signage of the award it won. If you don’t host an art show, add these labels to the artwork while on display in the school. Hanging the winning works of art is a great final display of the year. By publicizing these end-of-year art awards you are giving the artists much-deserved recognition from their peers, administrators, and teachers. It also brings focus to the art program, highlighting how important it is for the students.
Hands down my favorite end-of-year art award is the “Artscar.” We used 12″ wooden art mannequins and spray-painted them gold to look like an Oscar. These were a huge hit, the students love them. I liked to have one displayed on my desk all year, it prompted many questions and allowed me to explain the end-of-year art awards the students could work toward.
This award is the most expensive and time-consuming, but it was worth all of it when I saw students light up as I passed them out.
Public Recognition for End of Year Awards
Once you pull everything together to recognize your art students, find a way to do it publicly. We labeled winning artwork before opening night at the art show. This was the perfect way to unveil winning artists as they viewed the show. We also had the opportunity to pass out awards at our final whole-school gathering of the year. Students’ names were called, and they got to walk onstage to receive their certificate and Artscar.
Not every school has end-of-year programs, but finding a way to include these students in daily announcements, whole school e-mails, or similar to give them the focus they deserve is important to recognize them.
Thanks for checking out my end-of-year art award tips! Read tips on displaying work to highlight students here. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for weekly visual arts journal demos. Subscribe here to get updates and info straight to your inbox. Until next time!