VASE VIRTUALLY: Four artists qualify for state without interview process

Drowning in Ambition by junior Zoee Nolan

 In a virtual art world, four students are royalty. Senior Leah Smith, junior Zoe Nolen, sophomores Elizabeth Harder Wall and Heidi Giesbrecht qualified for state in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event. The contest was held online through the VASE website due to the pandemic.

SHS had four of the 20 state qualifiers out of 400 entries across the state. That means Seminole had 20 percent of the state qualifiers.

Art teacher Brice Autry said to be chosen and be judged at the state event is a prestigious accomplishment and challenging to fulfill.

  “To be chosen and be judged at the state event is a prestigious accomplishment and challenging to fulfill,” art teacher Brice Autry said. “It’s a huge honor because there are huge entries, and very few qualify.”

  Smith’s entry, Fettered Freedom, was mixed media of canvas and sculpture. She incorporated  a painted canvas with embroidered images attached to a physical cage hanging from the canvas. 

  “It’s a girl whose wings are made out of scissors,” Smith said. “She’s holding a rope connected to a cage with a monster in it. I want to show people that no matter what you’re going through, you always have the tools to cut yourself free because the monster represents her inner demons, and the scissors represent her ability to cut herself free. I did not expect to make it to state, because it was my first year in art, but I am very grateful and worked hard for it.”

  Personal trials inspired Drowning in Ambition, Nolen’s clay mug-inspired piece showcases a fresh perspective..

  “It’s my first year in art, and I made my piece with no intention of making it to state,” Nolan said.  “I did it to make me happy, but it was a nice surprise for sure. Mr. Autry helped me through the entire process because I had never done it before, and he taught me everything I did. It’s a girl who is drowning in a cup of coffee, I used wire for the hair and ceramics and paint for the rest. I want people to see that there is something happening in everyone’s life, and it’s not always pretty.”

  Giesbrecht’s quarantine-inspired drawing Oblivious to Time reveals how life can be taken for granted. 

  “I used drawing and coloring pencils to make it,” Giesbrecht said. “It’s a little boy inside an hourglass. It gives a message that you have to learn to manage your time and adapt to what is happening. I hoped to do better than I did last year, but I didn’t think it was that good so I didn’t expect to make it.”

  Harder Wall used her shyness as inspiration in her sculpture Fabrication of the Mind.  Her clay piece features hands reaching out of a head. 

  “My inspiration changed while I was working on it,” Harder Wall said. “The original idea didn’t make much sense, so I changed it to the hands coming out of the head instead of inside the head  to show myself getting out of my shell and how I express myself. Even if someone is calm on the outside, there is still a lot going on inside, and no one can see it.”

The state-qualifying pieces were delivered to Lubbock to be shipped to the judges. The state event will be held online with multiple virtual workshops students can attend on April 23-24.

The VASE experience has boosted the artists’ confidence.

“I feel more confident in my work,” Harder Wall said. “I’m surprised and so excited.”