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Preston Priest Named Best Emerging Artist

 Preston Priest smiles and poses in the hallway at Parkway West High School

May 22, 2024 - Preston Priest, freshman Deaf/Hard of Hearing student at Parkway West High School, is a self-taught origami artist. His passion began at the early age of seven. 

“When I was young, I went to the Botanical Gardens to attend the Japanese Festival,” he says. “I was so fascinated by some of the things I saw, like origami. From there, I decided to teach myself at home.”

Since then, Preston’s origami work has garnered attention from his peers and teachers. In the fall of 2022, Preston’s origami artwork, such as an octopus, dragon, and pumpkin, were put on display at his high school. Less than two years later, his art received local recognition. In the spring of 2024, Preston was named Best Emerging Artist at the Deaf Visual Arts Festival.

“I was shocked that I won because it was the first time that I had a booth,” said Preston. “I received a black box trophy with glass on top, which was really pretty.”

At the festival, Preston sold several of his artwork, including his most cherished piece, a peacock. It was created using nearly 2,500 pieces of paper over the course of four days. Preston sold it for $200 at the festival. 

“I was surprised that someone was willing to buy it for that price,” said Preston. “Throughout the day, people were really interested in my origami and were pretty shocked that I knew how to do it.”

But none of Preston’s accomplishments were a surprise to Kelsey Flachs, teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing at Parkway West. She says that Preston is a remarkable student and has always shown a willingness to put himself out there. 

“The first time that Preston showed me his origami creations, I was in awe,” said Flachs. “He is so incredibly talented and creative. He works so hard on his creations and I am so proud of him for starting his own origami business. This recognition is well deserved.” 

Preston’s goal is to become a professional origami artist. For those who are interested in purchasing Preston’s pieces, he will again be selling his work at the Deaf Visual Arts Festival in 2025.