Manatee County students honored as artwork heads to auction Saturday

BRADENTON -- The instructions were to create a ceramics piece with an eye and fingers.

For Kryshawn Gibbons, an 18-year-old senior at Southeast High School, those directions morphed into a piece she eventually titled "Dysfunctional Tiki." On Monday, she said the piece looks like a cross between a tiki and a Pop-Tart.

"It was really different for me," she said.

Gibbons won one of three Best of Show awards Monday night during a reception at the Manatee County Performing Arts Center ahead of the eighth annual Heart & Soul Gala and Live Art Auction.

Best of Show awards also went to Hannah Figueras, a junior at Braden River High School; and Isabella Orsini-Brophy, a senior at Bayshore High School.

Winners were chosen from 124 pieces of art submitted. The top 20 pieces selected by professional arts will

be auctioned off Saturday night at the Manatee County Performing Arts Center. Proceeds benefit arts programs in schools throughout the county.

The reception served as a preview allowing attendees a sneak peek at auction items for the sold-out gala run by the Manatee Education Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the school district through a variety of programs.

Seeing his photograph hanging on the wall Monday was a surreal feeling for 17-year-old Auston Mendonca, a junior at Bayshore High School. His lack-and-white photograph focused on a leaf.

"It's the first time the public has seen my work," he said. "It's breathtaking, I don't know how else to explain it."

A new feature this year is a People's Choice Award, which will be given Saturday. The artwork has been displayed in the Manatee Performing Arts Center for the last month. Theatergoers and other members of the public have been voting on their favorite choice, and Mary Glass, executive director of the Manatee Education Foundation, said she's interested to see which piece takes home the prize.

"My gut feeling is that it'll be different than the best of show awards," she said.

More than 275 guests are expected to attend Saturday's event, which will be emceed by Bay News 9's Summer Smith. Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design will be the auctioneer.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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