Finding a visual voice

Students win top awards at VASE

Story by Victoria Van, staff writer


Inks and paints flood the smooth canvas with saturated color, creating an awe-inspiring piece of art, exemplified by individuality and emotions. Eyes find their way to the piece and the artist hopes that the judge will accept their hard effort.

A wide array of students from all over Texas competed in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event, VASE, on Feb. 25 at Pleasant Grove High School. Schools from different regions attended, bringing artworks created using every medium imaginable. The end goal was to advance to state and earn a gold seal at the VASE State event in April.

The contest consists of an interview process where the artist explains their concept behind the artwork and the judge gives them a score between 1 and 4, based on the artist’s performance, intent and technical skill. Around 500 pieces were submitted in the competition with 21 Texas High students participating.

“When you check into the school and prepare for your interview, there’s a concept attached to your piece that you have to explain,” sophomore McKenzie Brown said. “For one of my pieces, The Great, which is a state head of Augustus Caesar is meant to represent how we should preserve art in contrast to their destruction of modern times. This is part of the integral interview process to contribute to making a good impression on the judges.”

At the end of deliberation, the judges deem which pieces make it to state. Only a handful of artworks are selected to state and then the ultimate winners have the chance to win a gold seal in San Antonio, TX.

This year, two artists, Maryanne Garcia and Triann Nguyen, received the highest honor by advancing to state.

“At first when I realized I made it to state my emotions overcame me and I started crying over the initial shock,” freshman Triann Nguyen said. “This was my first year to compete and I was surprised I was able to achieve my goal even as a freshman. I’m thankful that my art teachers, Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Nicholas were available to help me.”

The students and teachers have been steadfastly preparing for the competition and their expectations were surpassed.

“I’ve very proud of our students that participated and were able to make it to state and succeed in the competition,” art advisor Shea Phillips said. “An approximate 18 students received a gold medal for making a 4 on their interview with the judge with a total of 24 gold medals from Texas High. Two of our students made it to state and it’s a worthwhile accomplishment. The entire event was deemed successful.”

Since last semester, art students had to decide what medium they’d use to create their artwork. They have been working diligently towards their goal to be successful within the allotted time.

“People use different types of art supplies but I prefer to use colored pencil to layer colors and create gradients,” sophomore Jenna Mitchell said. “I’ve worked on my project for months, working periodically with my prismacolor pencils when I have free time outside of class. I started before Christmas break and within a few months, my progress advanced quickly as the competition drew closer.”

This year, more freshman participated in the competition and witnessed a lot of new challenges when overcomed proved to be a rewarding result. Once the results were in, a shock passed through the students who received a perfect score.

“As this is my first year being in VASE, I didn’t expect to make a perfect score like I did and I’m really excited for what will come next year,” freshman Ashanti Mitchell said. “The event was fun to be a part of and connect with other art students.”

Overall, the experience at VASE is rewarding for each person and allows you to interact with others from different schools in our area whom you’d otherwise never meet. You also develop stronger bonds with fellow art students and keen representation for your school.

“I’ve never been to VASE and this year it’s been a good art experience to hang out with my friends and gain insight from the jurors and advisors,” sophomore Emmanuel Conkleton said. “I’ll definitely be a part of the VASE community every year to learn about new art forms and broaden my expectations.”