Village News Reporter
Dacy Denton, a lifelong Fallbrook resident who took art classes at Sullivan Middle School and at Fallbrook High School as a freshman and transferred to Calvin Christian School in Escondido for 2020‑21, received the "Defender Award of Excellence" for best in class at the inaugural Dordt University High School Judged Art Show.
Denton, who is now a senior, won best in class for mixed media with "The Rooster," which combined oil painting with papier mâché. The work is based on the 1992 Alice in Chains song "The Rooster" which addresses the survival of a Vietnam War veteran.
"'The Rooster' is symbolic of life and the struggle that we have," Denton said. In her work, the rooster is bleeding from the barbed wire. "The rooster in the painting is very much alive," Denton said.
Denton noted that the inspiration of the bleeding but surviving rooster applies to many people. "We're still kicking. We're still going through life," she said.
The work took approximately 20 hours. "It was a big project," Denton said.
The oil in the painting portion needed to dry before Denton could apply the paper mâché. She also had to construct and shape the paper mâché. Denton also had to refine her brush strokes. "It needed to be exact," she said.
Since the work was done in the class taught by Calvin Christian art instructor Ron Van Der Pol, Denton's work on the project was limited to class time (the time needed each day to gather the supplies and to clean up limits actual painting to 30 to 35 minutes). She began "The Rooster" in early September, and the work took approximately three months to complete.
"I took extra care and put extra detail into that to make sure everything was just the way I wanted," Denton said.
Dordt University is in Sioux Center, Iowa, which is in the northwest part of that state. It is associated with the Christian Reformed Church. Van Der Pol recommended that Denton submit "The Rooster" for the Dordt University High School Judged Art Show. "He felt like my artwork wasn't getting much recognition in the school," Denton said.
Calvin Christian was founded by members of the Christian Reformed Church of Escondido. Some school leaders felt that the blood on Denton's artwork wasn't appropriate for a Christian environment. Denton said, "Some people felt that it was too rough to put on display at our school."
After Denton submitted the entry form, Dordt University recognized that the blood and barbed wire wasn't meant to glorify violence. "The meaning behind the work was easily understood there," Denton said.
Eight Christian high schools submitted entries for the Dordt University High School Judged Art Show. Calvin Christian was the only school from outside Iowa to enter. The eight schools submitted a total of 90 pieces, and 45 of those were accepted for display.
"My art teacher just provided it to me as an opportunity to get my artwork out there," Denton said.
The entry forms included a request for information about the artist and about the work. Denton's "About Myself" response stated: "To me, the deep conflicts of the heart always pair well with a canvas and a creative mind. I aspire to express myself through the paintbrush. You can find me depicting my favorite animal as a simple acrylic reptile, crying out my heart's pain to God in an abstract oil-painted desert, or even displaying myself as a rooster tangled in the sharp barbed-wire like words that I have heard and felt. So, whether a painting was birthed from passion, preference, or personal experience, you can always find a little piece of me in my work!"
In mid-winter Denton was notified that "The Rooster" was accepted into the Dordt University High School Judged Art Show. "It was awesome," she said.
The accepted pieces were displayed at the Campus Center Art Gallery from March 1 through March 30. The exhibit included acrylic, ceramic artwork, chalk, charcoal, graphite, oil, photography, and watercolor as well as mixed media. On March 30, Denton was notified that "The Rooster" won best of class for mixed media, which resulted in the Defender Award of Excellence.
"I was super ecstatic when I first found out that I got it, and it made me very proud that I got to share my artwork with others," Denton said. "I'm super grateful that I was not only able to enter into the art show but also got recognition for my hard work."
Denton, who has a 4.6 grade point average, has already been accepted to the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the University of Kansas, and Washington State University. She is on the wait list for the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Denton desires to have a major in animal science or zoology. She has not yet made a decision whether to add an art minor.
"I'm not too sure about minoring in it. It depends on my workload," Denton said.
Denton had been informally painting prior to taking a Sullivan art class taught by Melissa Ledri and began painting seriously after her middle school art classes. In 2020-21 Denton took Van Der Pol's Advanced Painting class, and that was her first academic year with oil paintings.