Falcons Compete at the Regional Visual Arts Scholastic Event


Juniors Montserrat Garcia and Seanna McCarty proudly present their VASE pieces. Their pieces took multiple months to draft, create and finalize.

Maddie Fossitt

Since the beginning of February, Tompkins’ art students have been fervently preparing their art pieces for the Texas Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE). The first VASE event was held in 1994 with just over 400 student entries. Today, the competition is hosted in 25 regional high schools throughout Texas with more than 25,000 entries. Of those 25,000 entries, 1,000 compete at the state level in San Antonio where the remaining art pieces are awarded an “All-State Superior Rating” or granted “Distinguished Status” with the coveted Gold Seal award. In addition, scholarships are awarded that range from $100 to $1,000.


“It is nice to be recognized for your hard work at VASE, but the competition itself is so much fun. When the judges interview you about your piece it can be nerve-racking, but they are usually understanding and really take an interest in your work,” said senior, competitor Mathilde Andry.


The competition begins at one of the 25 regional high schools where students are interviewed by judges about the process, meaning and stylistic design behind their pieces. If a student’s artwork is selected from one of the 25 regional high schools to compete at the state level, then they also have the opportunity to participate in various workshops at the state competition. These workshops allow students to learn about different art techniques and to try out new art supplies from an array of companies. While the students travel between these workshops, their pieces are judged and ranked against other state pieces. The competition concludes with an award ceremony where Gold Seal pieces are recognized and scholarships are given out to distinguished artists.


“I hope my piece will be considered for state this year, because it is one of the highest visual art honors in Texas. At the regional events, I forget that I am even competing against hundreds of other people. I really just focus on having a good time, enjoying the experience and seeing all the amazing artwork in our division,” said Andry.


Tompkins’ will have the most entries at the regional-level compared to any other high school in the Houston area. In order to enter a piece into the competition, the students’ work must meet a set of guidelines that carefully detail which materials and types of resources qualify for use. If the guidelines are not met, then pieces can be disqualified. The guidelines have been a source of debate among competitors who feel that VASE is limiting the creativity of artists and their artwork.


“The list of rules that art students have to meet for the competition is ridiculous. There are so many great pieces that get disqualified, and I feel like the list of rules grows each year. I just take the time to make sure that all my drafts and reference photos are attached to my piece, so that I’m not accused of plagiarism,” said Andry.


Despite the strict set of guidelines, VASE is one of the only art-related events where students have the opportunity to compete at the state-level and earn recognition for their school and themselves. Texas is one of the few states that honors young artists, recognizes their creativity and inspires students to continue pursuing in their artistic endeavors.  


The regional competition was held on Feb. 25 at Strafford High School and the students that advanced to state will compete on April 28 and 29 at James Madison High School in San Antonio.


Students Advancing to State:

Freshman: Ashleigh Wendrock


Sophomores: Megna Arya, Madeline Langan


Juniors: Andrea Arrangoiz, Claire Bai, Brandon Day, Renee Josse De Lisle,

Christina Zhou


Seniors: Alexa Baeza, Lucy Chen, Brittany Taylor