County art students put talents on display
Local students compete in 2017 Seven Up Art Show
The artwork is hung, the sculptures are on display and the judges are ready to pick a winner of the Seven Up Art Show in Charles County.
Art teachers with Charles County Public Schools recently put on display various art- work by their students in preparation for a Jan. 29 judging at Mattawoman Creek Art Center in Marbury. On that Sunday, family, friends, local dignitaries and state delegates will get to meet all of the winners and participants in the art competition.
Barbara Stepura, chair of the Seven Up Art Show, said people can expect more of the same — and better — at this year’s show. She believes the teachers are key to the students’ creativity and the fact that the art show keeps getting better and better.
“Prepare to be wowed because this is the best of the best,” Stepura said. “All are judged on a high school level and every student who hangs here should be proud that they’ve been selected to hang in a professional gallery. Although art funding has decreased and the Mattawoman Creek Art Center has lost money this year, art is still an important part of the community. Studies show communities that have a thriving art presence are better communities in terms of the economy.”
The Seven Up Art Show is a highly-anticipated art event in Charles County, sponsored by the Mattawoman Creek Art Center and the Kiwanis Clubs. This year, 120 students from all seven high schools have art pieces on display at the center within Smallwood State Park. They will receive cer- tificates and awards for their work. An independent judge selects winners in each of several categories for prize money and accolades.
“Hopefully people make an emotional connection to their work,” said Ja- son Churchill, visual arts teacher at Thomas Stone High School. “The students really learn to hone in on their skills and sink themselves into their pieces. There’s a lot more artistic culture in Charles County than people give it credit for. There’s a lot of youthful talent and the teachers are very proud.”
Each year donations and contributions are used as monetary gifts to the students who win first, second and third place in each of six judg- ing categories: painting, drawing, two-dimensional and three-dimensional art, photography, digital photography and com- puter generated art, and mixed media categories.
Bryan Donahue, chair of the art department at Henry E. Lackey High School, has eight students who submitted their dark room photog- raphy to the annual com- petition. One of his favor- ite photo submissions is that of his student Mack- enzie Martin, 15, a sophomore at Lackey. She submitted a photo of her dog, Wilson, looking out a window.
“I thought the picture would look cool and I’ve been always into art and drawing. I wanted to switch up and do photog- raphy and it has been fun to do. I’m proud of myself — to see that my picture is getting attention and is in the competition,” Mar- tin said.
“This is the top show for the students to par- ticipate in every year,” Donahue said. “They put a lot of work into it and they have a lot of talent. Dark room photography is expensive, but the kids like it — and when they see their picture, it’s their very own art.”
Josh Hettel, head of the department of visual arts at La Plata High School, said his favorite piece of work is “Surveillance” by senior Benjamin Butler, 17, which is an oil paint- ing that conveys surrealism, symbolic imagery and juxtaposition within the image.
“I just like to paint very realistic portraits of people and strange disconnected things in the picture. I hope people see that although I’m just in high school I am able to create composed art- work that looks almost professional. My goal is always to create work that stands out to others, that the eye is always drawn to,” Butler said.
“They formed their own style, finding out what they like and appreciate; what they are trying to get out to the community. It’s a show that is all about them — motivating them to create new pieces and try,” said Leith Phillips, art teacher at St. Charles High School.
Chisom Ojukwu and Chinazam Ojukwu, 17, students at Maurice J. McDonough High School, are identical twins originally from Nigeria. The pair submitted several pieces into the art show. Both sisters have been drawing commissioned pieces since they were in elementary school. They said art teachers like Kristina Blakeslee have helped their work progress.
“Art is something that I’ve always loved. In art classes, the teachers push the students to get better at their artwork. In Charles County I think it’s good for students to have an outlet — music, drawing, visual arts and building it,” Chisom said. “Some places don’t have art classes like this to express their creativity so I’m glad Charles County has made art a really big deal here.”
Chinazam has previously won first place at the Seven Up art show — an accolade she received two years in a row.
“Ever yone is so focused on spor ts and schools put so much money towards athletics when there are things like music and art available. We have to be allowed to be creative,” Chinazam said.
Timothy Bodamer, content specialist for the Fine and Performing Arts at Charles County Board of Education, said people are going to be pleasantly surprised at the caliber of this high school art show. He said the numerous works show how the students’ imaginations run — whether politically inspired, or just displaying different emotions — but there is a clairvoyant appreciation of art from the entire county.
A colored pencil drawing titled “Splish Splash” by Chisom Ojukwu, 17, a senior at Maurice J. McDonough High School, submitted into the Seven Up Art Show at Mattawoman Creek Art Center.
An acrylic painting titled “Surveillance” was submitted to the Seven Up Art Show by La Plata High School senior Benjamin Butler, 17.
This year, many art students in Charles County Public Schools have two-dimensional art pieces on display in the Seven Up Art Show at Mattawoman Creek Art Center in Smallwood State Park.
Barbara Stepura, chair of the Seven Up Art Show, helps to hang artwork for the Seven Up Art Show at the Mattawoman Creek Art Center on Jan. 18.
Charles County Public Schools students submitted a total of 120 works of art into this year’s Seven Up Art Show. The pieces will be judged Jan. 29 at the Mattawoman Creek Art Center.