Through the eyes of teenage artists
"Shame is like being barefoot in a room where everybody is wearing shoes…But in reality, everybody is barefoot."
That is how Woodburn High School senior Ariyonna "Ari" Macrum described not only the emotion, but her mixed-media senior portfolio, "Shame," which is among the 28 Gold Key recipients from Woodburn Arts and Communications Academy students in the 2020 Oregon Scholastic Art Awards.
An expressive, candid conversationalist, Ari said her body of work comes through a reflection of what everyone holds inside. Working with telephone-book pages, the project included an arduous task of stitching together a 365-piece blanket, predominately black and white, with each canvas square symbolizing what we hold inside each day of the year.
"Shame is part of dealing with a lot of things every day that people like to hide, but really everyone is dealing with it…we are not alone," Ari explained.
By the time she had created the first 100 tiles for the piece, she realized the undertaking was much more laborious than what she expected at the onset. But the sensation of finishing it was a good feeling. Ari said she tends to hold a lot inside, heavy thoughts, and her expression through art enables her to transfer those feelings "so I don't have to hold it anymore."
Ari also pointed toward her mother, Angela Chapman, as an inspiration and impetus to her work. She describes the single mother of four as one who did the work of "two-plus people" raising her kids alone since Ari was age 2 and her brother, Kyle, was 4.
"Looking back on it, it was such a weird way to grow up," Ari said. "I thought everybody just had a mom, then (attending school) I learned that people actually have two parents – a mom and a dad?"
Art came to Ari in a surprise fashion as well. She never thought about it too much, until the summer between her freshman and sophomore year when she attended "JumpstART," an art camp and Oregon State University, and the community of peers there inspired her.
She recalled: "Being around them, that's when it just clicked – 'Yes, I can do this!'"
Ari has her eyes set on continuing to do it; next year's plans see her enrolling in the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland.
Sophomore Ollie Knolson said she thought so little of her submission that she was half-hearted about turning in the paperwork. In fact, she didn't even think she submitted it correctly – and really didn't' care.
"All my art sucks, no one's going to like it," she declared.
Then her painting received a Gold Key.
"This just started out as a bunch of watercolors in a sketchbook," Ollie said, adding that the painting is untitled.
"It's really just about how isolated I felt," she explained. "Looking at it now, I think it's really bad – the technique and the figure in it. But that's okay, because it's just an experiment."
Ollie described harsh times growing up as a child, to the extent that she felt lonely.
"Growing up I felt isolated a lot, for a long time I felt like it was just me, stuck by myself," Ollie said.
Her description seemed to mirror some of what Ari also described within the context of "Shame."
"Ari and I are real similar," Ollie confirmed.
"You have to be really vulnerable to create art about things you really feel," she added.
Junior Zoey Benevidez said her Gold Key artwork, "Justice & Liberty for ALL," featuring an American flag, topped with a pointed finger and a bandaged hand, depicts the marginalization of the voices -- perhaps even the inalienable rights -- of minority groups on a national scale.
"It feels like here in America nobody can have equal rights (in the current political environment)," Zoey described the message she conveys through her work. "It feels like Hispanics and people of color don't have as much say anymore with the president that we have now."
She cited other elements, such as police brutality, and said that is why she had the wounded hand in the work.
Zoey also submitted a Silver Key piece within which she is arguing with herself -- three faces in a triangular arrangement. She described it as being deeply personal.
"I would say this is the first art piece that is really related to my life," Zoey said. "It's almost like my conscience, and I feel like my conscience has been overpowering my mind."
Curiously, while Zoey's self portrait and description may elicit thoughts of Sigmund Freud's id, ego and superego, there is another interesting parallel: Zoey is part of a brood of triplets.
"I'm a triplet; I was the second born," she said. "It was like my sister Mya, then me, then my sister Jordan," she explained.
"I can be bugged sometimes, but Jordan is the more 'mean' one," she jested, "and then Mya is, like, more chill. And I just don't know where I stand."
Aracely Perez's Gold Key photo, "Bed of Roses," was taken of her grandmother in a hospital bed holding and smelling a single rose.
"That was taken just a couple of days before she died," said Aracely, who also received a Silver Key for an outdoor photo of her grandmother with her father.
Briceyda Perez-Santiago received a photography Gold Key for "Spring Boy." A colorful portrait of her brother wearing green garnish and purple flower adornments.
Briceyda said she likes the color purple, and she and her brother were just having fun while shooting it. She also received two Silver Keys for other photos.
Yarie Munoz Olmedo's Gold Key photo was titled "Hiden'," in which she is donning a lampshade while hanging out with her friend, Nayeli Torres, in a second-hand store.
Nayeli earned two Gold Keys for paintings, "Black Lives Matter," and "Sad Paradise."
The latter depicts a loose helium balloon wearing a yellow disappointed face before the backdrop of a softly colored and sparsely clouded sky.
"I did that to show my emotions at the time, and how I was really kind of lost and sad during that year," Nayeli said. "But I felt like I was in a nice place. That's why I have the nice sunset in the background."
"Black Lives Matter" is a painting of the candy Skittles, the wrapper with the dark candies strewn over the canvas, a half dozen of which appear to have push pins in them.
Nayeli said the painting was inspired by a poem about Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager who was fatally shot by a vigilante George Zimmerman in 2012.
Nayeli also received a Silver Key for her photography portfolio.
The sentiment's behind the artwork is endemic to the practice, but that expression is becoming recognized for its importance beyond the scope of scholastic humanities. Current strides and understanding in the vital role emotional health plays in the development of youth has a feeler in the art world.
"There is value in art classes as people are recognizing its ability to give kids a healthy outlet, and that's important as mental health issues get more attention," WACA art teacher Catherine Johnstone said.
"Art is very important to critical thinking, and it connects people to everything," she added. "It also gives kids a voice; a place to express themselves."
Catherine, who has taught at Woodburn for 20 years, said when she occasionally receives a visit from former students, most of them tell her the thing they miss most about art is the critiques.
"Being able to show their work is important; art is meant to be seen," she said.
2020 Oregon Scholastic Art Awards
State-wide over 7,000 artworks were submitted. WACA received 28 Gold Keys including a Gold Key Portfolio, 60 Silver Keys, including a Silver Key Portfolio, and 111 Honorable Mentions.
WACA Gold Keys
Ari Macrum - Senior Portfolio in Mixed Media
Ana Anastacio – Photography
Zoey Benevidez – Drawing & Illustration
Fernanda Dominguez – Drawing & Illustration, Mixed Media
Luz Flores – Mixed Media
Anthony Galicia – Photography
Ashley Guerra – Photography (2)
Evelyn Hernandez – Photography
Alexandra Ivanov – Drawing & Illustration
Ollie Knolson – Painting
Sydney Leon – Mixed Media
Jackie Martinez – Photography (3)
Brenda Martinez – Photography
Hugo Martinez – Drawing & Illustration
Yaire Munoz – Photography
Ana Olazaran – Photography
Briceyda Perez – Photography
Aracely Perez – Photography
Edgar Sampson – Photography
Nayeli Torres – Painting (2)
Guadalupe Tovar – Photography (2)
Sandra Salazar – Drawing & Illustration
Nayeli Torres – Senior Portfolio in Photography
Silvia Aguilera – Photography (3)
Joanna Arrendondo – Photography
Lesly Arroyo – Mixed Media (2)
Zoey Benevidez – Photography, Mixed Media, Drawing & Illustration
Angel Capatillo – Photography
Haley Chaides – Drawing & Illustration
Alynn Cossio – Drawing & Illustration
Emilie Cottrell – Drawing & Illustration
Savannah Cox – Drawing & Illustration
Fay Delgado – Photography
Fernanda Dominguez – Painting
Emily Granados – Drawing & Illustration
Ashley Guerra – Photography (2)
Esmeralda Gutierrez – Drawing & Illustration
Alexandra Ivanov – Painting
Anna Koffler – Drawing & Illustration
Alexia Lobato – Painting (3), Mixed Media
Yesenia Lopez – Drawing & Illustration, Painting
Ari Macrum – Mixed Media, Printmaking
Jackie Martinez – Photography
Brenda Martinez – Mixed Media
Jovany Mendoza – Drawing & Illustration
Genesis Molina – Drawing & Illustration
Sandra Montanez – Drawing & Illustration
Destinee Morrison – Mixed Media
Rudy Perez – Photography
Briceyda Perez – Photography (3)
Aracely Perez – Photography
Emily Perez – Photography
Jolette Preciado – Photography
Adam Rauch – Photography
Karla Real – Photography
Edgar Sampson – Photography
McKenzie Sampson – Photography (3)
Crystal Sanchez – Drawing & Illustration
Nayeli Torres – Photography (2)
Maria Valencia – Photography
Magdalena Vasquez – Photography
Areli Valtierra – Photography (2)
Mirna Vasquez – Mixed Media
Perla Zepeda – Drawing & Illustration
Honorable Mentions (in a variety of media)
Joanna Arrendondo (2)
Lesly Arroyo (4)
Zoey Benevidez (5)
Fay Delgado (3)
Sierrah Destin (2)
Luz Flores (3)
Tatiana Garcia (3)
Emily Granados (2)
Ashley Guerra (4)
Anna Koffler (4)
Ari Macrum (4)
Alexia Lobato (5)
Brenda Martinez (3)
Adrian Martinez (2)
Giselle Martinez (2)
Rocio Medina (3)
Jovany Mendoza (2)
Yaire Munoz (9)
Ana Olazaran (4)
Aracely Perez (3)
Jolette Preciado (3)
Adam Rauch (2)
Hilda Rojas (3)
Virginia Salvador (2)
Nayeli Torres (2)
Maria Valencia (2)
What: Willamette Valley Scholastic Art Awards Ceremony
When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 14
Where: LaSells Stewart Center, Oregon State University, Corvallis
View WACA art students' contributions at; woodburnschools.com/scholastic-art-writing-awards
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