West Side students compete to have art displayed at U.S. Capitol

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Self-portraits and other paintings were displayed at the United Center Friday, as high school students from Chicago’s West Side gathered to compete in the 34th annual Artistic Discovery Art Competition.

“There’s so many talented people,” said Adia Ivey, a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School and this year’s first-place winner. “It was just a great opportunity to come here.”

Ivey won with her vivid painting of ocean waves against a mountainous backdrop.

“I wanted to do something that was more colorful since I wasn’t really used to that,” Ivey said. “I thought it’d be really cool, kind of showing the waves falling off of the canvas; that’s what I was going for.”

Ivey won a round-trip flight to Washington, D.C., where she will see her art displayed at the U.S. Capitol for a year.

She also received a computer, $200 spending money for her trip and a summer scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, said Congressman Danny K. Davis.

“Art is an integral part of education,” Davis said.

That’s why art should get as much attention as math, science and literature, he said.

As the co-chairman of the Congressional Black Caucuses Education Task Force, Davis said the annual event is more than a high school art competition because many of the participants will go on to greater endeavors.

“Some of them will move on and become commercial artists,” Davis said. “Some will study art in college. Some will do graphic and design work.”

Fifty-seven students from nine West Side high schools competed: Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Frederick Douglas Academy, Providence St. Mel, George W. Collins, Manley Career Academy, Michelle Clark, Proviso West, Oak Park and River Forest High School and Ray Graham Training Center.

Although just 10 students placed in the April 17th competition, Davis assured the nearly packed room of family members, educators and supporters that no student would leave unrewarded.

Katherine Kurisch, a special education art teacher at Ray Graham Training Center High School, said for the past four years she’s prepared students for this competition, and each year she’s grateful for the positive impact it has on them.

“We have some students with autism, we have some students with a variety of behaviors,” Kurisch said. “And to see the way that they are able to focus and put some of those behaviors aside while they’re engaged in art is amazing.”

Marigold Goetz, art teacher at Douglas, entered four of her students into the competition, one of whom won 8th place with a self-portrait.

Goetz said many of her students were nervous to compete.

But in the end, she said the biggest thing they’ll learn is confidence, whether they win or lose. And they’ll benefit from having others see their artwork.

She said it’s good for her students to see “their work is actually worthy and people enjoy it.”

Levette Hayes, one of nine judges and a member of the Westside Cultural Arts Council, said programs like Friday’s annual competition, show why arts education shouldn’t be the first program slashed when schools lose funding.

“You can tell by the end result that (the students) put a lot of time in,” Hayes said. “And so it shouldn’t be the first program cut, it should be the first program supported.”

Here are the winners:

1st Adia Ivey (Oak Park River Forest)

2nd Rashall Ruiz (Proviso West)

3rd Hannah Chow (Whitney Young)

4th Arial Davis (Michele Clark)

5th Breana Scurlock (Manley)

6th Lakendra Liddell (Collins)

7th Imani Campbell (Providence St Mel)

8th Louis Brantley (Frederick Douglas)

9th Ayicia Murray (Whitney Young)

10th All the students who entered from Ray Graham


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