Con­gres­sional com­pe­ti­tion fea­tures lo­cal artists

Maryland Independent - - Front Page -

Two high school stu­dents have their art­work placed in the Con­gres­sional Art Com­pe­ti­tion.

Jekko Syquia, a se­nior at St. Charles High School, earned sec­ond place. North Point High School sopho­more Ash­ley Bow­man came in fourth with an honor­able men­tion, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

Syquia has placed in the com­pe­ti­tion for the past four years, com­ing in first in his fresh­man and sopho­more years and tak­ing sec­ond place twice as an upperclassman. This year’s piece “Curiosity at Work” is an oil paint­ing of his friend Kennedy Smith in sci­ence class look­ing through a mi­cro­scope.

“‘Curiosity at Work’ is a beau­ti­ful paint­ing,” An­drew Wodzian­ski, a Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land (CSM) art in­struc­tor and one of the art show’s judges, said in the re­lease. “It’s tech­ni­cally ac­com­plished, with im­pres­sive paint han­dling on a rel­a­tively small can­vas. It’s com­po­si­tion­ally en­gag­ing; the top down per­spec­tive leads view­ers onto the work ta­ble. And the­mat­i­cally, it’s provoca­tive.”

Syquia has been an artist for most of his life. His fa­ther was al­ways draw­ing, so Syquia did too. It didn’t hurt that his older brother and sis­ter also are artists who con­tinue to in­flu­ence him. Syquia has been in Ad­vanced Place­ment (AP) art classes since his sopho­more year, tak­ing AP draw­ing this year and is the only stu­dent in Au­tumn Britt’s AP 3-D class, which is more of an in­de­pen­dent study pe­riod when Syquia can work on projects.

Britt said Syquia is the type of stu­dent who is up for try­ing any­thing. “He’s al­ways go­ing out of his way to learn more,” Britt said in the re­lease. “He’s amaz­ing. The thing I love about Jekko is that he’s the hard­est work­ing artist I’ve ever known.”

Syquia re­ceived a fine arts schol­ar­ship to George Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., but his in­ter­ests go be­yond can­vas. He would like to fo­cus on his art as well as ex­plore sci­ence classes. Syquia counts oil paint­ing as his cur­rent fa­vorite medium and Kim Jung Gi and Ian McKay among his top artists at the mo­ment.

He’s learned that cre­at­ing means giv­ing up some con­trol. “I needed to loosen my­self up,” he said. “I used to get caught up in try­ing to make it per­fect — just do it. Find your style and just go.”

The color way

The first thing a viewer no­tices about Bow­man’s oil pas­tel “The Col­or­ful Lion” is that it’s not of a lion at all, but of a chameleon. The sec­ond thing is the colors. “Ash­ley’s ‘The Col­or­ful Lion’ en­cap­su­lates many color prin­ci­pals in a stunning fash­ion,” said Wodzian­ski, who teaches color the­ory and prac­tice at CSM each se­mes­ter.

Bow­man has al­ways liked paint­ing and draw­ing, and like Syquia, she keeps a sketch­book nearby. Bow­man is a culi­nary arts stu­dent at North Point, with an eye on spe­cial­iz­ing in pas­try. Be­ing in the kitchen is an­other way to express her­self cre­atively. Be­ing a stu­dent in Terri Alo’s Art II class, Bow­man has learned tech­niques that will take her art far. “She came in with a lot of tal­ent,” Alo said. “But I’ve seen her grow as an artist over the year.”

The com­pe­ti­tion

The Con­gres­sional In­sti­tute holds a na­tion­wide high school vis­ual art com­pe­ti­tion ev­ery spring to rec­og­nize and en­cour­age young artists. More than 650,000 high school stu­dents have par­tic­i­pated since 1982.

In Charles County, stu­dents sub­mit en­tries to Con­gress­man Steny Hoyer’s Wal­dorf of­fice, with a panel of seven judges se­lect­ing the win­ning en­tries. Works are judged on cre­ativ­ity, tech­nique and skill, vis­ual im­pact and in­her­ent mean­ing. Win­ners are rec­og­nized at the dis­trict level and dur­ing an awards cer­e­mony in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. The win­ning works — “A Happy Place” by Lillian Bridges of Hunt­ing­town High School placed first place in Dis­trict 5 — are dis­played for one year at the U.S. Capi­tol.

“Art ex­presses so many hu­man emo­tions,” Syquia said. “Peo­ple can say how they feel, but to show it is dif­fer­ent. Art is im­por­tant. When you can’t fully express your­self [ver­bally] — it gives you free­dom.”

Ash­ley Bow­man, a North Point High School sopho­more, works on a paint­ing in her art class. She placed fourth, earn­ing an honor­able men­tion in the Con­gres­sional Art Com­pe­ti­tion.


Jekko Syquia, a 2017 grad­u­ate of St. Charles High School, works on a bust dur­ing art class. Syquia placed sec­ond in this year’s Con­gres­sional Art Com­pe­ti­tion. He has placed in the pro­gram all four years of high school, in­clud­ing be­ing named first place in his fresh­man and sopho­more years.

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