2016 Art Contest Entries

A special thanks to our participants in this year's art contest. A Rooster Year by BingBing Zhang one First Prize, and Decay by Emily Dzieweczynski won bother Second Prize, and Best of Show, awarded at the Art and Creativity Showcase on Dec 8, 2016. Below you will find digital representations of each piece, along with the title, artist name, medium(s), and description. Note that the look and feel of the digital representations vary from the actual physical pieces submitted tot he contest.

Photo of "A Rooster Year"

Blue First Prize RibbonA Rooster Year
BingBing Zhang
Pen on Paper

First Prize

This is a drawing of Chinese New Year in 2017 - the year of the rooster. The Chinese character carved on an apple on the top left corner has the meaning of good fortune. The flowers and sycees (Chinese gold ingot currency in imperial China) underneath the rooster represent good health. The symbolism of this drawing is auspiciousness for 2017. Chinese folks often display such images on the wall or door in the desire of a promising new year. The reason why I only used red ink as the color of my drawing is because red is characterized by prosperity, success and luckiness in the Chinese culture.

Photo of Decay

Image of Red Second Prize RibbonImage of Yellow Best of Show RibbonDecay
Emily Dzieweczynski
Drawing on Wood Board

Second Prize, Best of Show

Decay is prompted by the lack of empathy experienced towards those cultures that do not belong to our in groups. Of specific study in Decay, I wanted to understand the suffering experienced by the Native Americans and to commemorate the massive genocide that is often forgotten, neglected, or ignored. In experiencing empathy, mirror neurons in our brains respond especially well to facial expressions- when we see something similar to us, our brains respond in ways that are similar to those expressions in both emotional and motor functioning. For this reason, I wanted to display a face, something people can relate to and empathize with, and demonstrate how suffering has made it less human.

Photo of "Bright Ideas"

Bright Ideas 
Megan Johnson
Water Color, Acrylic Paint on Canvas

Speaking specifically in terms of surface-level science, language operates on a deep cognitive level. It is fascinating to think that the human brain can conceptually construct an idea or feeling and then translate that into both written and verbal communication. Yet, to only consider the expression of language in terms of written and verbal communication is a bit short-sighted. One can manufacture a metaphor or synthesize a simile, yet the execution of that expression can prove to be difficult. It is in that process that I found inspiration to construct Bright Ideas. The painting depicts a brain that supposedly is in the process of ideation. Yet, the viewer of the piece and to be frank the artist, are not are not given a sense of resolution. Neither the viewer or the author directly know what the brain in the painting is thinking or communicating. Rather, they themselves must imagine what the brain has created. Thus, both the painting, the artist, and the viewer must use their language to conceptualize what they are seeing.

Photo of "Nebula and Nebulous"Nebula and Nebulous
Megan Johnson
Water Color, Acrylic Paint, Pen on Canvas

Nebula and Nebulous depict the sun and moon. In terms of commonality, both are outlined in pen which provides a stark contrast to the watercolor background. Despite similar compositions, both are very different. The similarities and differences in these paintings are characteristic of language. Imagine the following: when I look into the sky after dark has fallen I see the twinkling stars and the moon. At the same time, my Japanese pen pal looks into the sky. She conceptually understands and sees that the sun is in the sky. While an ocean, a language, and literal space spate us and cause us to be different, one aspect we share is that the sun and moon both rise and fall in our worldview. We experience the same moon and sun under one sky. Yet, how I describe the moon differs from how she might describe it just as how two viewers of this piece may describe what they see in two different ways. I use the sun and moon as examples of language differences because these images are vague and theres is no specific set of words that are perfect to describe them.

Photo of "Time of Renewal"

Time of Renewal
Pa Doua Chee Moua
Acrylic Paint on Canvas 

My work of art consists of a cherry blossom tree with a teal background. My name is Paj, meaning flower in Hmong. I have always been fascinated with flowers, especially cherry blossoms because the flowers are so simple, yet beautiful. Cherry blossoms, also known as “Sakura” are Japan’s national flower. In their culture, it represents simplicity, spring, innocence, love and joy. The most significant meaning is the symbol of humility. Sakuras are indeed delightful, but their view is cut short due to the sudden deaths of the flowers. This idea is comparable to life, specifically how life is short and unpredictable. As humans, we must be humble and live life to the fullest, because we do not know when our lives will be cut short. Therefore, we must overcome and move on from our struggles, and let hope lead us toward a new beginning. I haven’t painted in over 3 years, and during this time, I was going through a difficult phase. The meaning behind sakuras touched my heart and I was reminded that life is short, yet beautiful and full of extraordinary experiences.