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13th District art competition
More than 100 works on display

By Maria Jose Subiria

Each piece with its own splash of color and its own bold statement, more than 100 works of art are on display this year as part of the 13th Congressional District Student Art Competition.

Organizers officially opened the competition with a reception Thursday at the Arts Clayton Gallery, located at 136 South Main St., in Jonesboro.

On display are 102 pieces from 75 students from throughout the 13th District, which is made up of parts of Cobb, Clayton, Douglas, Fulton, Henry and DeKalb counties.

This is the first year students from all eight Clayton County high schools are participating.

"This year we had about 30 children that participated," said Cephus Jackson, assistant superintendent for

Clayton County schools. "So, it's just not all about the quality, but the quantity this year."

Participating students have an opportunity to win scholarships to attend the Art Institute of Atlanta, or the Savannah College of Art and Design.

The first-place winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta, or $1,500 a year to attend SCAD. The student placing second will receive $5,000, and the third-place winner will receive $2,500 toward attending the Art Institute of Atlanta.

"We've contributed over $50,00 in scholarships this year," said U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), who represents the district. "We want to provide resources for students ... and we need to show them that not only do you have to excel in sports to achieve scholarships, but there can be other areas of achievement."

Scott, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, says he had an artistic flare as a young boy, and wanted to introduce the competition in his district to reward students with artistic abilities, and grant them the opportunity to pursue higher education.

The competition is now in its seventh year.

"I know the value of drawing, because as a kid I got my act together by drawing and painting," said Scott. "The point of the matter is, we can get kids to express themselves, like seeing a 5-year-old draw, and that's special because he's connecting with himself."

Anthony Lee, 17, is a participant this year. He was the youngest person to win the Patron's Award at Arts Clayton's 2009 Juried Show and Competition last month.

"Hopefully I'll get a scholarship to the school of my choice, which is Savannah College," said Lee.

Lee's piece, entitled "Impossible is Nothing," is a portrait of President Barack Obama with the American flag shown in the background. Lee said he put in a total of 13 1/2 hours to complete his artwork, using charcoal and colored pencils.

"He's an inspiration to me and he shows us whatever your lifestyle, you can conquer any goal," Lee said of Obama. "You need to have a will, and a want to succeed."

Scholarships are not the only benefit students receive in the competition. They are given an opportunity to expose their art and talent to the public through the Arts Clayton Gallery.

"For many students this competition is the first time they will submit their artwork to a gallery," said Ashley Tanks, deputy press secretary for Scott. "The competition serves as a great opportunity for students to gain confidence in their craft and exposure for their artistic talents."

The winners will be announced at the Congressional Awards Presentation and Reception, a free event, on March 14 from 11 a.m., to 2 p.m., at the Arts Clayton Gallery.