Designs That Shine: Students Win Scholastic Art Contest

McGwire Ishikawa, Reporter

     The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is an annual contest created to recognize talented artists and writers, displaying their works on a national level. Open to all students in grades seven to 12, the contest winners are awarded through a variety of categories such as architecture, poetry and painting. Awards are listed as follows: honorable mention, silver key and goldkey. Among this year’s winners are Junior Katelyn McAniff, Junior AlwynMatthew Agustin, Senior Jarren Gapusan and Senior Tai Phaniphon. “Art defines me today because it can be applied to everything. I think about elements of art in everything, from my school work to the clothes I wear.” said McAniff.

     Working since November, Agustin created a self-portrait oil painting. He Used his skills of mixing and matching paint, winning a gold key. “Everything just came from my heart and I messed up a lot and that means that I’m learning and finding what can I improve more,” said Agustin, a self-taught artist. Drawing and Painting teacher Ruth Ravina-Koethe added, “It was well-deserved, they all worked very hard and it’s nice to be recognized when you do good work and you enter it in a contest and you win.”

     Phaniphon’s oil pastel painting was titled “Insomnia,” winning a gold key in the contest. Her painting was based off a poem she wrote a while ago. “It was fitting because I was just doing college applications and I was super tired, so I just did that. But I wanted to make it a lucid state, like lucid dreaming,” Phaniphon said.

     Gapusan, who does art mainly as a hobby, submitted two ceramic pieces created from clay and glaze: an uli’uli, receiving an honorable mention, and aJapanese teapot, which won a silver key. His designs were created as a way to express his cultures and ethnicities. “At first I wasn’t too confident in my ability to create an award winning work of art. But I ended up entering two of my ceramicprojects, I thought that I might as well try,” said Gapusan. Ceramics teacher Kathleen Kaya added, “While he was making it, it was so creative and neat and I had it in mind that he was gonna use that piece for the contest.”

     McAniff was awarded a silver key for her oil painting. Her design was a renaissance-style portrait of her pet rabbit. “One day she was sitting inside of a garden pot and I thought it was so adorable that I had to take a picture and immortalized her in a painting. She’s getting old and I’ve literally spent almost half my childhood with her, so I thought a painting would be a nice way to remember her in the future,” said McAniff.

     Winning a gold key automatically made Agustin and Phaniphon nominees for the American Voices and Visions Medal. This is a national level award given to only one writer and one artist from each region. “As a self taught artist,people don’t know the struggle on how to mix and match paint. That is why when people are recognizing my work everything just disappears like nothing happened because art is my life and no one or anything can change that,” said Agustin. Phaniphon added, “You see so much of your own work, you don’t see how good it is until someone tells you it is, or you get recognition.”

     The winning pieces from all over Hawai‘i will be displayed at the Hawai‘iState Art Museum from Feb. 15 to March 14. More information can be found at