Art competition highlights students’ welding skills

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 11:03 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Months of work on metal sculptures culminated with an awards ceremony Friday night at the Taubman Museum of Art.

The artists were high school students in local welding programs. The judges had a difficult challenge: choosing the winners from among the 15 entries that were on display.

“Great work, everyone,” said judge Tay Whiteside. “It was evident that you poured your heart and soul into what you did.”

The hours of work that went into each one was apparent, the creativity impressive.

Steve Bickley was another judge. He is an accomplished sculptor who taught for 32 years at Virginia Tech.

“Creativity, problem-solving has always been a part of what I like to do,” Bickley said, “and this group was very exceptional at that.”

For the second year, Section 179 of the American Welding Society sponsored the competition.

Schools in Blacksburg, Botetourt, Pulaski County, Roanoke County and Salem were represented. And when the awards were handed out, Roanoke County students Josh Patsel and Ben Kingery took home the grand prize.

Botetourt’s Walker Johnson earned first place. Roanoke County’s Luke Stubbs won the people’s choice award.

The National President of the American Welding Society was also on hand. Dennis Eck was impressed.

“It was very fascinating tonight, just to see the heart, the passion and imagination that each student created,” Eck said. “They did a really great job.”