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Saturday, May 16, 2009

There's a Lot of Young, Promising Talent in North Carolina


About a month ago I received a request from Congresswoman Sue Myrick's office to be a judge in this year's Congressional Art Competition.  I agreed.  I was one of 3 judges from my county of Union to attend the exhibition of artwork from promising young high school students in the area who had applied to be a part of the competition.

The competition, sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives, is held each spring and begins a nationwide search for talented high school students to compete in the Artistic Discovery Contest.  The contest encourages artistic talent across the nation as well as in their Congressional District.  All the artwork must be original in concept, design and execution.

The winner is honored by having their artwork displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year and a trip to Washington D.C. 

So, I, and 2 other judges, spent a couple of hours admiring the artwork and the talent of local high school students and I would like to share their work with you.  There were over a hundred pieces and they were all excellent, but here, I am going to share with you the winning artwork and a few pieces that I believe deserve honorable mention.  There were so many excellent pieces and so much talent and creativity, that it was difficult to narrow it down to 3 winners.  Personally, my choices were based on composition, control and use of the artist's medium, perspective, color and value, and how well the artist's work impacted me and drew me in.  I also pay attention to where my eye goes when looking at each piece - a clue to the overall composition.

Congratulations to all the students who were nominated to compete in the competition. 


The Winners:

First Place:

Natalie H.
12th Grade
Myers Park High School

"Abstract Cityscape"
31 x 23 Mixed Media
Acrylic, tissue paper, charcoal, and ink.
Teacher: Lynn Wu

My eye went right to this piece.  You might notice some strange highlights at the bottom of the image.  These are due to the light shining on the protective clear cellophane covering the image.   I love this piece.  Natalie's use of her mixed media and abstract depiction of her cityscape are excellent.  I was particularly impressed with her freedom of movement, application of color and design, and composition.  Very impressive work Natalie!  Congratulations!


Second Place:

Brooke S.
12th Grade
Charlotte Christian School

30 x 25
Teacher: Eva Crawford

If this doesn't make you smile, nothing will.  I love this piece!  The detail and crispness is wonderful.  Artist Charles Hawthorne once said "A portrait is a picture of a person with something wrong with the mouth."  Not this portrait!  Brooke captured the essence of her grandfather in every detail - and must be commended on her depiction of his mouth, his smile, his teeth, and his smile lines.  His eyes, too, although closed, are filled with emotion, and she captured every shadow and every detail of his glasses as well.  It is her grandfather's smile that draw you into the portrait.  She is to be congratulated, too, for filling the canvas with his face and his smile.  It is composition such as this that we love and admire.


Third Place:        

Megan B
11th Grade
Charlotte Christian School

"City Life"
30 x 23 Mixed Media
Teacher: Eva Crawford

"This" ... is a powerful piece.  I mean, just look at the expression on the homeless man's face.  The squint.  The detection of anger and sorrow in his mouth and face.  The grip he has on the sign.  The sunlight and how it hits his face directly.  Incredible.  I am anxious to ask Megan what inspired her to do this piece and how she decided upon the elements she used to tell her creative story.  Everything from the ripped box to the newspaper depicting the city, the magazine elements behind the cut-out letters, the smear of the hand across the sign.  Wow. 


So these are the top 3 winners of the 2009 Congressional Art Competition for our Congressional District.  Tomorrow, I will meet Congresswoman Sue Myrick, the artists and their families, and speaking to them about why we made the choices we made and what inspired us about each piece.  I am looking forward to being a part of these young artist's big day.

I would like to share with you some other pieces that will be receiving Honorable Mention. 

Katherine D.
12th Grade
Covenant Day School

Teacher: Joshua Barkey

I love the contrast between the black & white of the image and the brilliance of the red and how it is blended into the petals of the orchids.  Excellent work, Katherine!


Susan H.
12th Grade
Charlotte Christian School

"Thoughtful Man"
21 x 16.5 Mixed Media
Watercolor and Charcoal
Teacher: Eva Crawford

You can see the expression of thoughtfulness in this man's eyes.  The way that his glasses sit on his face, the glimmer of a smile and the roundness of his cheeks.  Great work.  I thought it was artistic and interesting how Susan used watercolor to depict light and shadow.  She has used "hot" and "warm" colors (yellow, red, orange) to depict the area on the man's face that is in light, and "cool" colors (blue, green, and maybe a hint of violet) to depict the areas of the man's face and hair that are in shade.  Interesting.  It caught my attention.  I also like her detail with the man's whiskers.


Grey H.
12th Grade
Charlotte Christian School

Mixed Media
Watercolor, Acrylic, Ink
Contour portrait with color highlights
Teacher: Eva Crawford

I love this piece.  It is simple and elegant.  The color choices are fascinating and so is the artist's use of mediums.  It has a Peter Max quality about it with a bit of Matisse thrown in for good measure.  Love it.  I want to take it home and hang it somewhere.  The thick use of the yellow acrylic paint on the right is fabulous.  There is a freedom of expression that I really love.  Great work!


Charlotte L.
12th Grade
Gaston Day School

"Fitia's Peace"
22.5 x 19 Mixed Media
Oil and Collage
Teacher: Holt Harris

Interesting, don't you think?  I think this painting, together with "City Life" welled up in me the most emotion.  Behind this child is a map of Madagascar and there is a story about this painting as told on the entry by the artist: "This painting portrays a young girl, Fitia, who I met and photographed during a humanitarian project in Madagascar this [past] summer."  Isn't she beautiful?  The thought that went thru my mind when I saw this painting was "we all need to understand and help the children of this world. We need to find peace in this world."


And lastly, ...

Caroline G.
12th Grade
Charlotte Christian School

"Sister Sarah"
27.5 x 21
Word Art
Teacher: Eva Crawford

Whoa.  I mean, wow and whoa.  This entire piece is nothing but "words" that describe the subject - apparently the artist's sister, and the words are in values and sizes that at a distance (and if you squint) bring each element of the piece to life.  I love the way Caroline used different handwriting skills to depict the different areas and textures - such as shadows, wrinkles in the shirt, the hair and hairbow.  What amazes me is that I don't see any mistakes.  Not that I was looking for any, but goodness! That sure is a lot of writing and the consistency in pen pressure, handwriting style, value, is incredible.  Great work Caroline!  You sure caught my attention and kept it there for a good long time.  I love what you wrote throughout your piece too!


Aren't these pieces wonderful?!!!

Congratulations to the winners and to all who entered.  Your work is exceptional and deserving of recognition.  Congratulations to Charlotte Christian School and Teacher Eva Crawford.  You are obviously doing something right in training up your students to be the exceptional artists that they have become at such a young age.  I am looking forward to being a part of the 2010 Congressional Art Competition.  Look for you there!




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