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Young Emerging Artists Prove that The Arts are Alive and Well in Olympia

In the fall of 2021, Splash Gallery launched Pacific NorthBest, its inaugural Student Art Show for Olympia School District high school students. Members of the 10-year old co-op gallery located in the center of Olympia’s waterfront district, created an opportunity for local high school students to share artistic interpretations of why they love living in the region.

According to Splash Gallery member and regional painter, Katherine Ransom, the concept of a student show was a natural, “Art inspires young people to excel in and out of the classroom. It helps students stay in school, increases motivation, improves attitudes and attendance and improves academic performance. We had a sense there was a big pool of artistic talent in our community but because of fractured school schedules, we weren’t sure about the response, but we are thrilled to have such a great turnout.”

With 39 completed submissions, the task was daunting to narrow down from a wonderful array of talent and mediums. Student who placed all attend Olympia High School and include First place winner Aseneth Wetzel with “Mossy Reflections”; second place winner Ella Sherin with “Case Inlet Sunset”; third place winner Ruth Jahn with “Snail’s Eye View”. Two honorable mention awards go to Leila Chavez with “Sword Fern” and Maya Rasmussen, with “My Morning Walk.”

Artist Aseneth Wetzel shared, "When I first started working with felt six years ago, I didn't have much faith in myself or my work. There were times when I thought that I would never progress. This experience means so much to me because it has helped me realize how far I've come. Not only have I progressed in my artistic abilities, but I've learned to be proud of my art and find joy in it."

Thanks to the generosity of local businesses and benefactors, prizes include gift certificates from Olyphant Art Supplies, Olympia Frameworks, Olympia Lamplighters, Rainy Day Records and Vic’s Pizza (thanks to Friends of Jubilee Fine Arts Club) as well as a beautiful gourmet gift basket from


Olympia High School Ceramics Teacher/Career and Technical Education, Katie Jahner, recently summed up the importance of art, “I believe one of the deepest desires of the soul is to create--to put something into existence or order that wasn't there before. Art builds connections to ourselves, our communities, our past, future, and the world around us. It's a way of knowing and exploring. During this pandemic, I think frequently about the research that shows that 45 minutes of creativity daily lowers cortisol levels, regardless of skill level. I feel like offering art to students in school isn't just essential to cultivating a flourishing, rich society, but it's also meeting an immediate need for healing, comfort, and expression during these difficult and unsettling times.”

Artwork selected will be shown in the dockside window of Splash Gallery from February 10-28, 2022. Winning images will be featured online 24/7 and in the gallery, Thursday- Sunday from 11am-6 pm.


Splash’s co-op members and the select pool of jurors were equally impressed. Bridget Irish, Artist and faculty member from The Evergreen State College, said, “What an exciting collection of submissions by local young artists! Students expressed a great variety of visions and approaches in their work; it was a real challenge to determine which pieces to showcase.”

Ruth Greening, a celebrated silversmith designer and instructor, was equally thrilled. “There were so many wonderful mediums and designs it was a hard choice to pick pieces to showcase the theme of what we love about the Northwest. It is wonderful to see so many students interested in the arts, my wish for them is to keep searching and stretching the boundaries. Seek out the best teachers, learn and then develop your own style,” said Greening.

“It was an honor to sit on the jury committee to the inaugural Pacific North Best student art competition. We had a wonderful array of talent and mediums submitted. It was a pleasure to see so many budding artists in our local schools. It's events like this that help build confidence in our future creative leaders, giving them the support and encouragement they need from our community,” added block print artist and longtime Splash member, Laurel Henn.

About Splash Gallery Located on the boardwalk at the scenic Olympia Marina, Splash Gallery is a cooperative art gallery established in 2011 to promote artistic expression in the community through exhibitions and contributions to local groups in support of the arts. It has become a one-of-a-kind art experience in the heartbeat of South Puget Sound. Splash offers a vibrant selection of local fine art including paintings in oils, acrylics, pastels, encaustics and watercolor, as well as jewelry, fused glass, ceramics, photography, woodworking, mosaics and more. Splash Gallery is located at 501 Columbia Street, Suite C, Olympia, WA. For more information contact us at 360-943-5177 or visit

“Mossy Reflections” (felted wool) by Aseneth Wetzel “Case Inlet Sunset” (photography) by Ella Sherin

“Snail’s Eye View” (watercolor and ink) by Ruth Jahn “Sword Fern” (cut paper) by Leila Chavez

“My Morning Walk (graphite pencil drawing) by Maya Rasmussen


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