Winter winners on display downtown

January 06, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN - The mission - to create a work of art based on the theme "Winter in Hagerstown."

The task presented for the children's art contest at the Contemporary School of the Arts & Gallery Inc. helped area students, including Jasmine Thompson, learn to express that which is familiar to them through art.

Jasmine, 17, recently moved to Hagerstown after living in the Silver Spring and Gaithersburg, Md., areas. She set out to create a found object piece depicting an idyllic snow-covered house she had seen in Hagerstown. When she lost sight of what the house looked like, Jasmine turned to something more familiar to her - a girl and a snowman fashioned in the "emo" and gangster styles she said she sees at school each day.

Her sculpture featured a girl with a gold paper fastener for a face and a body of clay. The snowman was crafted from two foam circles in the shape of an eight, representing the eight-ball symbolism used by gangsters.


Jasmine called the piece "the coolest thing I've ever done."

"I love art. It's my passion, you know? I had the most fun with this art right here," Jasmine said. "I haven't done art since June 2007, so I was fiending to do something."

School and gallery founder Ron Lytle said the goal of the nonprofit organization is to empower and encourage children by teaching them about art and helping them refine what they already know.

"We want to give them an opportunity to stay off the streets and go in a positive direction. We want to build self-esteem," Lytle said. "There are a lot of opportunities out there to take a wrong turn. We want to keep kids on a positive track."

The children's art contest was open to kindergarten through 12th-grade students. Participants submitted their work by Friday for judging.

The gallery hosted a reception Saturday afternoon to exhibit the work and honor the winners.

Jordan Cannon, 14, of Hagerstown, entered an acrylic painting of downtown Hagerstown. She said she based her painting on a photograph she took during a snowfall. Jordan, a ninth-grade student at St. James School, said she appreciates the work of the Contemporary School.

"It's experience, so I can kind of get a taste of the art world and presenting things," Jordan said.

Jordon is the school's featured artist for February, exhibiting both watercolor and acrylic works.

Nyesha Campbell, 10, of Hagerstown, won second place in the elementary division of the contest with an untitled multimedia piece. Her crayon portrayal of the Jonathan Hager House in City Park accompanied yarn-lined Christmas trees adorned with beads, pompoms and shredded paper snow.

"I think it's cool that a lot of people entered the contest and I came in second," Nyesha said.

Sage Brewer, 10, of Hagerstown, won third place at the elementary level. Her cityscape included The Maryland Theatre, a bookstore, a church, a Sheetz and a busy street, overlaying a portrait of a face with an outstretched tongue catching a snowflake.

"I like to draw a lot of pictures," Sage said. "I'm good at drawing faces 'cause I stare at myself a lot."

Other winning entries included a pastel portrayal of a statue of Mary at a local church, a watercolor of a City Park bridge reflecting in the water and a driving perspective of a street lamp and cityscape in chalk with an acrylic overlay.

Adults present at the reception expressed their excitement about Lytle's work to bring the arts to children.

"(Lytle) is all about the community helping kids," said Jasmine Thompson's mother, Fara Thompson, 36, of Hagerstown.

Poet Ed Zahniser, 62, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., called the school and gallery, "a great community offering."

"Training in arts is not being conducted in schools as much as it should now because of curriculum changes and overemphasis on testing," Zahniser said. "It's very important to have a community organization doing something to teach and encourage kids."

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