Columbia Heights student artists to showcase their talents

As the Columbia Heights School District is well known for their focus on the arts, many local students will have the opportunity to share their forms of expression at the 11th annual Sister Cities Young Artists Showcase in Columbia Heights. The showcase will feature a variety of artistic styles and mediums, all done by young artists from ages 13 to 18.

Dane Hodges looks over Rezkath Awal as she works on her submission for the Sister Cities International Young Artists Showcase.  (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
Dane Hodges looks over Rezkath Awal as she works on her submission for the Sister Cities International Young Artists Showcase. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)

Each year, the Young Artists Showcase encourages youth from around the globe to express the mission of the Sister Cities through original artwork, literature, film and photography. This year’s art show theme, “we’re going places,” shows the importance of travel and exchange in achieving peace. The theme encourages students to be inspired by travel, exchange, or international friendships. “We’re going places,” is meant to display students’ vision and goals of where the future will lead in either a literal or metaphorical sense.

This annual showcase has been a staple in the community for many years. Columbia Heights Supt. Kathy Kelly said she is incredibly supportive of the arts in the school district.

“We are extremely proud of our long-standing collaborative visual arts relationship with the City of Columbia Heights,” Kelly said. “As the 2017 Sister Cities International Young Artists Showcase is nearing, Columbia Heights Public Schools once again has many outstanding student artists participating. We are proud of all of our student artists and we thank the City of Columbia Heights for its incredible support of the visual arts.”

Many students have earned recognition and prizes for their pieces in the past and have moved forward to the international level, proudly representing Columbia Heights. Local winning art pieces are sent to Washington D.C., where a panel of judges selects a grand prize winner based on originality, composition and theme interpretation. Last year, Nathan Smoka of Columbia Heights High School was the grand prize winner with his artwork titled, “Unity,” which expressed his interpretation of the theme, “peace through people.”

Art of all forms

The Sister Cities International Young Artists Showcase is an opportunity for community groups to work with the local school district.

Columbia Heights High School art teachers Dane Hodges, Linda Maylish and Sarah Honeywell have students participating that are inspired by the theme.
Unlike past years, students are submitting multimedia art pieces. Honeywell teaches Media Arts, a class that allows students to create digital art through photo manipulation, color enhancement, text and color overlays and other techniques to form an original art piece. In addition to paintings, students can express themselves through this form of digital art, originally-taken photography or collages.

Dane Hodges shows Johny Castro watercolor techniques for his submission for the Young Artists Showcase.  (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
Dane Hodges shows Johny Castro watercolor techniques for his submission for the Young Artists Showcase. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)

AP Studio Art teacher Hodges said he is looking forward to the Young Artists Showcase because it is more of an experiential event, rather than a simple art gallery showcase.

The event gives students the opportunity to perform and provide entertainment by offering an “open mic” stage. Popular in past years, students can sing or play an instrument while the judging is taking place.

Community kindness

Many local restaurants are willing to help out when the Rec. Department puts together events for the community. Recreation program coordinator Liz Bray is appreciative of the generosity of these businesses, like Chipotle, Noodles and Company, and La Casita.

“I’m really encouraged that they are so willing to participate in these kinds of events,” Bray said. “They’re showing that they do care about youth in this community by hiring and putting them to work, and they’re willing to support the Rec. Department.”

Local Chipotle manager Andrew Berry said this teamwork and positivity is what he likes to build his business culture around. Berry said that all his employees are treated like family and he is always willing to help out the community in a positive way.

“We’re meant to go through life as family members and friends,” Berry said. “So why not just put the connection out there a bit more. We can all help each other out, build each other up for the future.”

Bray said these businesses donate free food items, coupons or gift cards on occasion when events are happening in Columbia Heights.
“They’re all just so willing to help out with anything that we need,” Bray said. “I’m just blown away.”

Young artists showcase

The Sister Cities International Young Artists Showcase will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. at Murzyn Hall, 530 Mill Street, Columbia Heights. Local judges will select a first place winner who will have the opportunity to move on to the international level and earn $100. Two second place winners will receive $50 each. All community members are welcome to support local student artists.

Contact Sarah Burghardt at sarah.burghardt@ecm-inc.com.

Dane Hodges helps Adler Burton with his submission in AP Studio Art. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
Cecelia Fridley works on her submission in Sarah Honeywell’s Media Arts class. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
Hannah Stewart works on a digital art piece that expresses her interpretation of this year’s theme: “we’re going places.” (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools) Molly Wilson works on her submission in Sarah Honeywell’s Media Arts class. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
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Hannah Stewart works on a digital art piece that expresses her interpretation of this year’s theme: “we’re going places.” (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)