Campus Artists Bring Home Hundreds of Medals from VASE

Isabella Geltman, Staff Reporter


On February 17, VASE district competition took place at John Paul Stevens High School. Students from LEE and all magnets can either submit a piece for competition themselves or be recommended to by a teacher. 


46 NESA visual artists entered 64 works with 19 going to state. 19 of those three were awarded double state medals, Autumn Howard, Chris Nguyen, and Megan Quiroz. 84 ISA artists competed with 149 artworks, earning 137 medals, and 14 students advancing to state.


VASE sent many to state this year, exciting many of the advancing students. “It was nice to have a fresh set of eyes and critique on my artwork,” said NESA visual artist (VA) Sabina Ramon (10) who submitted “Spotlight” with oil on canvas. 


Students were really happy to have the opportunity, however each has their own issues with the competition style as a whole. “I appreciate the competition and critiques that come with my interview, seeing other students’ works, and getting inspiration from that, however judges can be very close minded and conservative,” said NESA VA Gianna Carruth (10) who submitted “Blind Vulnerability” with oil on canvas. 


Many don’t let VASE judging define them, but enter the competition to gauge the work from a different outside perspective. “I don’t take VASE super seriously but I’m really happy I made it to state,” said NESA VA Liana Hartman (10), who submitted “Adler ” with oil on canvas. “The best part is seeing the other winners and the works that get the gold seal, which is the highest you can receive in the entire state,” said Carruth, Ramon, and Hartman.


While VASE can be a place for friendly competition and a positive reach for growth and learning as an artist, it can also be harmful to those less skilled or with unique art styles. NESA VA Noah Weltin (10), who submitted the piece “Blue Stripes” with oil on canvas said, “The judging feels a bit rigged at times, judges seem more biased towards hyper-realism.” 


Art is also a very subjective form of expression, NESA VA Dani Velasquez (11) who submitted the piece “Feminine Fallacy” with oil on canvas said “I feel it could be harmful to the minds of other more inexperienced artists being told that their work isn’t good enough just because it’s not hyper-realistic or what the judges wanted to see.” 


Juniors were also competing against senior works which created further competition in one category. “Vase was a mixed bag for me this year, competition was harder and I wasn’t able to go to state but I’m always interested in seeing the senior art…you see art sometimes and you think, oh that’s good, that’s very observational, and other times you think, oh they’re an artist,” said NESA VA Emilie Wilson (11) who submitted the piece “Insatiable” with oil on bristle board. 


For some artists, this was their first year attending Vase or having a piece put forward. There was a lot to learn and they were excited to do so. “This was my first time ever taking an art class, I never understood how important technique was or how time consuming art can be…it was intimidating to be around other really talented artists but the judges were sweet, I heard about how limiting their critique can be but I went in with a simple piece and my story behind the work had been pre-planned and thought out in class” said Analucia Butron (10) who submitted “Overflowed” with graphite. 


“I love the validation and critique that comes with Vase but it can be very chaotic and unorganized… it’s a bunch of fun art nerds crowded together trying to find their spots… I also think the judging can be unfair, they take a lot from how you speak about your art and not everyone is extroverted or super well spoken” said Jacqui Hernandez who submitted a Comic with ink and watercolor (11.)


VASE as a whole can be a very positive community and give artists the chance to put themselves out there but may not be the best place to start. All participants were thrilled to have the opportunity to potentially win something for their efforts and while some have ended up disappointed, it still allows students to grow from mistakes and have a positive mindset even after the “loss.”

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