Scholastic Art is on exhibit at the Hawaii State Art Museum
Scholastic Art Awards works by Hawaii students are currently on exhibit in the Hawaii State Art Museum’s upstairs gallery.
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Andy Warhol once won a Scholastic Art Award. This year, 200 or so Hawaii middle and senior high school students also won one, earning a slot in an annual exhibition at the Hawaii State Art Museum.
For 57 years, the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts has sponsored the Hawaii Regional Scholastic Art Awards competition. It’s part of the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the country’s longest-running and most distinguished scholarship and recognition program for creative students in grades 7 through 12.
More than 1,000 Hawaii students participate in the competition — this year, there were 1,174 to be exact, with more than 2,500 entries on the local level, according to project manager Kamakani Konia. Of those, 234 award-winners were chosen to be included in the HiSAM exhibit.
Award-winning works are evaluated for originality, technical skill and personal vision, said Susan Hogan, a HiSAM educator who served as a judge for the competition.
Hogan judged photography. “This category requires the artist to have a good sense of composition,” she said. “The point of view seen through the lens, the cropping (or lack of thoughtful cropping), and the inclusion (or exclusion) of visual information all contribute to the making of a successful image. Things that may contribute to an appealing snapshot – a beautiful sky, a pet, a flower – may or may not present as an artistic image.
“If the photographer shows deliberate attention to capturing a scene, a moment, or a subject in a way that causes me to linger, look closely, and reflect on meaning, I am inclined to want to see it included in the exhibition,” Hogan said. “Those engendering the most reflection and suggesting the deepest meaning got my vote.”
This year, 33 of the award-winners are from Neighbor Islands. The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts covers the entry fees for all students, shipping fees for Neighbor Island students and also flies the students and their teachers to Oahu for the awards ceremony.
MOST STUDENTS participating attend public or private schools in Hawaii, but home-school students also participate. This year, two home-school students won five awards between them.
Phoenix Maimiti Valentine, a home-school student and repeat Scholastic Award-winner, was recognized for her animated short films last year. This year, she received a Gold Key award for her entry in the design category and a Silver Key award for her documentary short film, “Origins & Inspirations of the 1959 Hawaii Statehood Commemorative Medallion.”
Her digitally produced design, created in connection with a documentary called “A Paradise Lost,” is titled “#namethePalila.”
“#namethePalila’ is a poster to raise awareness for ‘specimen BBM251,’ a Hawaiian honeycreeper who became the hero of the Endangered Species Law,” Valentine explained. The challenges of survival for the unnamed bird formed the basis for a winning lawsuit by conservationists, “Palila vs. Hawaii” in 1979.
“Hopefully ‘opio (youth) will get to learn more about the lives that depend on our forests and malama ‘aina (care for our land),” Valentine said.
There are also first-time competitors who make an impact, such as 11th-grader Alwyn Matthew Agustin, whose contemporary oil painting, “Self-portrait,” brings home a first American Visions Nominee award to Mililani High School.
Says Agustin: “This is my first entry for Scholastic. I entered because I was so determined to win a contest. … I always want my pieces to be realistic as possible; that is why I always train myself. Practice makes it better.”
Another first-timer is Poli‘ahu Wells, a 10th grader at Kahuku High and Intermediate School, who entered a colorful acrylic painting titled “Balance.”
Wells described what inspired her to paint it: “My inspiration was the concept of Yin and Yang, which I have recently been reading about during my personal study. I wanted to convey a feeling of calmness, which I feel directly correlates with the Yin and Yang concept. When I finished the painting and stepped back to take it in as a whole, the only word I could use to describe it was ‘balanced.’ ”
Make note of the names of these award-winning young artists. Their works hold great promise for the future of art in Hawaii.
HAWAII REGIONAL SCHOLASTIC ART AWARDS
>> Where: Hawaii State Art Museum
>> When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily (except Sundays) through March 14
>> Cost: Free
>> Info: 586-9959, hisam.hawaii.gov/exhibits