Nervous smiles and subtle anxiety can be seen and felt throughout the crowd of art students as they wait to load the buses with their completed works. Reciting their speeches in their heads, the students mentally prepare to present their piece in front of a judge. Once pieces are stowed and the bus is loaded, the students had off to Stratford High School to compete in the annual Visual Art and Scholastic Event (VASE) that was held on Feb. 10, excited to reveal their hard work and meaningful creations to their judges. One such student is senior Claire Bai, who submitted a 2-D granite piece that reflected the effects of technology on humans.
“VASE is a really unique contest because it emphasizes creativity and really allows artists to reflect their own opinions and personalities,” said Bai.
In addition to the veterans of VASE, there were many first timers who experienced the process anew. This was especially true for the digital art students as this was the first year VASE offered them the chance to compete. In this competition, there is an emphasis placed on individual creativity and expressing one’s viewpoint in a powerful yet artistic way, and by adding digital elements, these students have another path to explore in conveying their message.
“I usually like to use a lot of the same colors in my pieces, which are more pastels, in ways that you wouldn’t think of like making a face orange or hands different colors” said sophomore Abbey Powell, digital art student.
Unlike other art competitions, VASE grants students scores not only based on the quality and message of their artwork, but also on an interview where the students presents their piece to a judge. Students are expected to explain different aspects of their work as well as their message to one judge who listens intently and comments on parts done well and improvements that could be made. The judge then fills out a score sheet, and any pieces earning a superior ranking will be eligible to be voted on to move to the state competition. From the pieces that are given a superior ranking, all of the judges vote on a select number to move onto the state competition in April.
“My favorite part about VASE is that at the end of the day, there’s a gallery of all the top scoring pieces. I’ve really liked this part of the experience, because it’s awesome to see everyone else’s pieces. VASE focuses on creativity so much that all the pieces are always so different and I always get inspired by them,” said Bai.
Tompkins had an extremely successful weekend with many students scoring a three out of four and four out of four ranking. Several students were also given the opportunity to go to the state competition, including Bai. All of the students worked diligently and with intense concentration on their works, producing pieces that challenged their abilities as artists, and allowed for their personal style and creativity to shine.
“VASE is a contest where you can create anything you want, so because of that, it really challenges my creativity,” said Bai.