Student Cover Art Contest Winners 2014
Robert Yu, this year's first-place winner and contest three-peater, is a fan of Cubism and applied that technique to "Optical Beauty," a portrait of his sister, Chrystina, a glasses-wearing optometry student and constant inspiration for Robert, also the cover contest winner in 2013 and 2012. "My image is about embracing who you are," the Piedmont High School graduate said. "I believe it is always important to be confident with what you have been given in life."
While Robert dedicated his piece—which uses hues of magenta, tangerine, and teal—to his sister, he said the true subject matter is more about the confidence and beauty of the person behind the glasses. "On a more artistic viewpoint, this piece is about looking at things from multiple perspectives," he said, confessing a compulsion for conveying motion. "When people look at this painting, they connect these three images of my sister together, and they see the picture begin to move.
"The overall movement," he said, "represents how seeing things from different perspectives allows a viewer to get a bigger understanding. It is always good to be open-minded and to look at things from a new perspective .... By doing this, you become more knowledgeable, and also more aware of your surroundings."
Buoyed by the confidence, focus, and sense of accomplishment he has found through success in visual and performance arts, Robert remains interested in hip-hop dance and martial arts (Wushu) and maintained a heavy senior load, taking four AP courses, serving as president of three club as well as participating and choreographing for dance teams and teaching break-dancing to newbies. He also competed at national level martial arts tournaments and won awards for painting, drawing, and dance. He spent the summer dancing 13 hours a week on three dance teams and, intrigued by dentistry and orthodontics, shadowed at a dental office and an orthodontic practice.
"One of the greatest accomplishments for me this past year," he said, "was applying for colleges, and my life changed when I got accepted into UC Berkeley. Go, Bears!" He's planning to study biology and thinks it will lead him to a career in the health industry, though, "I plan to continue to explore my passion in the arts and will be taking art classes as well. I would love to find a career where I could intertwine my interest in science with the arts.
"Art is a growing experience, and it has helped me grow into a new person, into an artist. I could not image my life without art."
When Ilana Franklin dug into her art teacher's trunk of materials for a new project, she was instantly inspired to turn some of her finds into a collage. "She had all this sheet music and really cool paper," Ilana, 16, a junior at Piedmont High, said about instructor Gillian Bailey's collection. "I had to use it!"
Ilana, whose credits an opera-singer mother with her artistic bent, went straight for the sheet music and then for the sewing pattern instructions and tissue paper and got to work. An animal lover and cat owner who recognizes the universal appeal of animals, Ilana used the score for the background, and the sewing instructions and tissue paper became the pattern for the primary focus, a pensive fox, for the piece, called "Rhythm." Gold foil gives the handsome creature a ponderous gaze as its eye narrows in on something far off, probably an unsuspecting rabbit.
Ilana took time out of a family road trip by car to Niagra Falls to talk about her artwork, noting during the phone interview, "My family is being very quiet right now."
That she chose to depict a fox is a little random, Ilana said, but she "really likes doing animals" because she suspects viewers readily connect with them. This is the first art contest time she has entered, but she has a long-running interest in art, taking art classes in and out of school. When asked about her favorite pastimes and hobbies, the young artist said, "Mostly art at this point. That's what I do. It consumes my life most of the time."
Ilana also plays tennis, knows guitar, and sings, but art is really her passion, and she is considering a career in design; she built in a tour of Rhode Island School of Design on her summer trip.
"I really like to find a way to express myself. I take the time to do it really carefully to make sure people can understand the message I'm trying to convey," she said. "[Art] can be little bit intimidating, especially when its seems like people are better than you. But art is something open to everyone."
Roland High's preferred medium is acrylic paint, though the 17-year-old third-place winner chose pencil for his entry. "Summer Vacation" is a skeletal self-portrait conveying his anxiety over facing an unplanned summer as his friends exuberantly touted their impending activities.
"Being dead and accomplishing nothing was all I could think about at the time," Roly said on a break from intensive art studies at The California State Summer School for the Arts at the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita. He added sheepishly, "To be honest, I did not have time to use paint. I think my CSSSA counselor application was due about the same time."
Now a Head-Royce senior, Roly found his four-week CSSSA summer packed with art 12 hours a day. His Head-Royce studies this year look equally intensive, with advanced placement courses in art and art history on the horizon as well as classes in Shakespeare, film, and literature.
A Piedmont Pines resident, Roly has been practicing art as long as he can remember, even giving away his drawings to preschool friends. "It's pretty much a constant presence," he said about art. He is far from one-dimensional, however, with interest in English, creative writing, history, piano, other artsy subjects, public forum–style debating, and current events. He also likes cooking and has worked at Rockridge Market Hall, making empanadas, pies, puddings, and the like, and plans to investigate prospects as a catering assistant during the school year.
Influenced by the work of American portraitist John Singer Sargent, Roly isn't sure where his art, debating, and writing will take him, but he has set a deadline to come up with a basic career plan: "Until Thanksgiving."
"Art is what I'm best at and what I've been doing the longest time.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Alexandra Costello, "Poster Girl" (gouache); Katie Hubert, "Sierra Mountains" (linocut); Jason Parker, "Sunset on the Ocean" (acrylic); Natalie Stollman, "Manny" (linocut); Margot Witte, "Sunflowers" (acrylic).