Photo by Heather Middleton
By Joel Hall
For the eighth-consecutive year, the 13th Congressional District Student Art Competition has given artistic students from Clayton, Henry, south Fulton, south DeKalb, Douglas, and Cobb counties several reasons to be motivated.
On March 20, 96 students from 21 district high schools will compete for scholarships to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and the Art Institute of Atlanta, as well as a chance to have their art displayed for one year in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. On Thursday, the 150 pieces of art in the competition made their debut at the Arts Clayton gallery in Jonesboro.
The 13th Congressional District Student Art Show will hang at Arts Clayton until March 26. On March 20 at 10 a.m., U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) will award the first-place winner of the show with his or her choice of either a $10,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta or a $6,000 scholarship to SCAD, as well as an invitation to travel to Washington, D.C., to see his or her work unveiled at the U.S. Capitol.
David J. Johnson, district director of the 13th Congressional District, said Scott's office has sponsored the competition since 2003 as a way to give recognition and scholarship money to deserving art students in the district.
"What the congressman wants to do is that he wants to provide the greatest opportunity to give scholarships to his constituents," Johnson said. "This is just another avenue for participants to further their education. I think it's an inspiration to students that there are other opportunities for people who choose not to participate in sports ... it is an inspiration for people to continue to build on their artistic skills."
Art featured in the show includes two-dimensional pieces featuring abstract, pop-culture, and natural themes in a variety of mediums. The show also features photography and three-dimensional artwork.
"I look forward to this show every March," said Clayton County Commissioner Sonna Singleton, who was at Thursday's premiere. "I always like this show because it is always interesting to see what's on the students' minds. Every high school in Clayton County is represented, so I am very excited."
Arts Clayton Gallery Manager Karen Powers said participation in the art competition has increased dramatically from last year. She said the competition is often the first time students have had their work hung in a professional setting, and that the opportunity provides a valuable educational experience for young artists.
"This is one of my favorite shows of the year, because it allows us to show the work of high school students in a very professional setting," Powers said. "It is also a way for us to stress how important art education is. Participating in art gives them [students] creative-thinking and problem-solving abilities, which are needed in the real world."
The second-place, third-place, fourth-place, and fifth-place winners of the competition will be awarded with prizes, according to Johnson.
The second-place winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta and have his or her work displayed in Scott's Washington office for one year. The third-place winner will receive a $2,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta and have his or her art displayed in Scott's Jonesboro office for one year.
The fourth-place winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta, a free week of art classes at the institute, and have his or her art displayed in Scott's Smyrna office for one year. The fifth-place winner will have his or her art displayed in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Youth Art Gallery.
Johnson said the first-place winner will have his or her art displayed in the Cannon Tunnel alongside the winners of congressional art shows from around the country, to be seen by important U.S. officials and foreign diplomats on a regular basis.
"It's well-traveled by all the representatives and staff of Congress and by any visiting dignitaries," Johnson said of the tunnel. "It's just beautiful to take that walk and see the quality of art work there."
According to Johnson, student winners must be present at Arts Clayton on March 20 in order to claim their prizes. For more information, visit www.artsclayton.org.