Pursuit of artistic accolade

Hannah Melick, Entertainment Editor

Clean strokes, calculated details. From vision to rough sketch after sketch to actually watching the piece materialize, breathed to life by the brush strokes of vibrant colors, which blanket the length of the canvas. Gliding across the surface, the paint brush dances with light pressure. Each section, calculatingly so, dominated by clusters of brilliant shades, lively hues. For junior Carolyn Rodriguez, art has always been something she holds passion for.

“Art has always been a huge part of my life. I would see my mom- she would just doodle little doodles or scribble and that, and then, being little, I would copy what she was doing or trace it. Then from there, I kind of just started developing my own sort of style,” Rodriguez said.

Looking to display her artistic talents, Rodriguez was eager to jump on the opportunity of participating in the Congressional Art Competition, a national art contest held for high school students. Art teacher and department chair of visual arts Nichole Cooper agreed on participating in the contest, originally brought to her attention by Principal Brett Crousore, though she has never before done so. Upon inquiring her interest, Rodriguez happily agreed but had her worries.

“I was extremely nervous about it because the way [Mrs. Cooper] phrased it. She said it was a national competition, and I went, ‘National? You mean like the USA?’ I wasn’t very sure because it’s a lot of people and I looked at the page and I saw the past winner and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I could do this’ or even have a small chance to win,” Rodriguez said.

When Cooper was tasked with selecting a student to participate in the contest, Rodriguez was the first student to come to mind. In Cooper’s mind, Rodriguez’s natural talents made her the perfect candidate.

“She is very detailed and neat, like her craftsmanship and her skill level, it’s just very good. Her paintings look like she’s been painting for years… She just really took to painting and she’s really a fast learner when it came to painting,” Cooper said.

The competition allows works of art of many different varieties and mediums, as well as allowing for the submission of past work. Rodriguez’s choice of submission was completed as a school project first semester and details an acrylic cityscape of Mass Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.

“It was just a rainy day. I stood on top of a trashcan to get this picture. I had my brother hold me, I was like ‘just get me up on the trashcan, I need to get this perfect angle.’ Because I was too short to see anything, I had to get up higher. And this was the most colorful street I saw,” Rodriguez said.

Both Rodriguez and Cooper are hopeful that the piece speaks to the judges, both creatively as well as the underlying ideals expressed.

“I thought it was also interesting because it’s of Mass Avenue, so it’s downtown Indianapolis, and I thought maybe the judges would like that because it kind of represents where she lives and her city and Indianapolis culture,” Cooper said.

Placing in a competition of this size, especially one of such competitive nature, is something Rodriguez hopes to achieve. Above all, however, Rodriguez appreciates the experience in itself.

“I’m just glad I get to participate in the entire thing. It’s the first time I feel like I’m putting something out there into the world. Because it’s not just an assignment or something I do for fun at home; it’s something that other people are going to see or are going to judge, which is kind of scary, but in a good way,” Rodriguez said.