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'I can't believe I'm the only one in middle school in Wisconsin that won a gold medal.'

That was the reaction of Katie Dulle, 14, an eighth-grader at Steffen Middle School who is a national gold medalist in the 2016 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

'It comes easily so I was surprised I won,' she said.

Dulle won for her print entitled, 'Flames of Love,' according to a news release from the Mequon-Thiensville school district.

When asked about the title, Dulle said 'the background looked like flames' and that her dad was rubbing her back in the picture so it 'looked like love.' She added that when people view the piece, she wants them to have 'good feelings, feelings of love.'

Dulle said she was 'excited' to hear she'd won, but that wasn't the only thing she was excited about.

'I was really excited to hear about going to New York,' she said. 'I've never been there.'

Dulle's mother, Laura, said she, her husband, and Katie are heading to New York for three days in early June for a celebration of the gold medalists. Her mother said she played in Carnegie Hall's lobby in a high school band in 1976 but her daughter and husband had never been to New York, saying the trip 'will be very exciting for all of us.'

A ceremony will be held at Carnegie Hall and pieces will be on display at the Parsons School of Design at The New School and Pratt Institute's Pratt Manhattan Gallery.

Laura Dulle said the Empire State Building will be lit in gold in honor of all gold medalists.

She added that select pieces will travel the country for two years for the Art.Write.Now 2016 national exhibition.

The competition

The competition was open to grades seven through 12 from across the country. More than 300,000 pieces were submitted with only the top 2,000 earning national medals — Wisconsin is home to seven gold medalists, including Katie Dulle.

Steffen Middle School art teacher Diane Berndt said she is 'thrilled for Katie' and said it's a big achievement for a middle school student to win a gold medal at the national level.

'Her image is expressive and technically very strong,' she said. 'Katie is a very talented, creative, and humble young lady.'

Dulle's mom agreed and added a bit more.

'Katie is a very shy young lady,' she said of her daughter. 'This has been quite an experience for her.'

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards date back to 1923, according to the release, and 'have grown to become the longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S.' Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Robert Redford and Joyce Carol Oates are among previous winners.

How it's made

'I just found a picture that I really like and made a print out of it,' Katie Dulle said. 'It turned out how I wanted it to be.'

Laura Dulle described her daughter's work as a 'printmaking piece.' She said it's made by transferring ink from a prepared surface onto paper or some other flat surface.

'She looked at a picture and drew it,' she said.

Following that it was transferred to a 'rubber-type medium,' cut out, rolled in black ink, stamped onto paper, then color was added.

Art lover

'I like art a lot, I've done it my whole life.' Katie Dulle said. 'I like to draw on my own in a sketch book, it relaxes me.'

Laura Dulle said her daughter, the middle of five girls, won a 'gold key' in the state competition, where she took part in a ceremony at the Milwaukee Art Museum in February where the winning pieces were displayed for six weeks.

She said her daughter also won first place for another piece with the same design but different colors in the Cedarburg Woman's Club's Helen Mears Art Contest held April 5. That contest included seventh- and eighth-graders with 175 entries submitted.

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