ARTISTIC TALENT — Students from Floro Torrence School 83 took home several awards during the 2018 IPS Holiday Art Contest. Above is the first place winner in the middle school division, Stephanie Mejia, sixth-grade. Below, honorable mention winner Kinsley Robinson (kindergarten); several images of some of the winning art from Floro Torrence; third-place winner in the elementary division, Molly Mullins (fifth grade); first-place winner in the elementary division Yoel Perez (second grade); and honorable mention winner Darianold Mays Jr. (first grade).
Carmela Merriman, an art teacher at Floro Torrence School 83, takes the annual IPS Holiday Art Contest seriously. And it shows, as several of her students walked away with wins during this year’s competition.
While ecstatic about her students’ work being recognized, for Merriman it’s more about the experience and what they’re learning rather than racking up first-, second- and third-place wins and honorable mentions.
But she’s happy and proud to celebrate her students and those wins, which include:
1st Place: Yoel Perez, Grade 2
3rd Place: Molly Mullins, Grade 5
Honorable Mention: Kinsley Robinson, Kindergarten
Honorable Mention: Darianold Mays Jr., Grade 1
Middle School Division
1st Place: Stephanie Mejia, Grade 6
“I have participated in the contest for the last five years,” said Merriman. “I chose the theme for each grade level. I also research the different types of (images on) Christmas cards that are out there and try to think about what the kids have learned and try to challenge them with their lessons.”
At the beginning of the school year, Merriman said most of her students seem “lost, but right around holiday card contest time, their skills start really showing up.”
This year’s awards celebration and show was held December 7 at Edison School of the Arts 47.
Stephanie Mejia, who created Santa’s sleigh filled with lots of colorful Christmas packages, said she was surprised by her first-place win in the middle school division, especially since this was her first time participating in the content.
She used watercolor for the background of her work “and paint, markers and colored pencils for the sleigh and gifts,” said Stephanie, an 11-year-old sixth-grader. It took her three to four hours to create her piece.
Stephanie said her artistic talent comes from her dad and uncle “who are good at drawing.”
Yoel Perez, a second-grader at Floro Torrence, wasn’t surprised by his first-place win in the elementary division. He actually expected it.
Yoel drew a poinsettia, a popular plant often used around Christmas time, with green construction paper as the canvas, colored pencils and red glitter for the leaves. He also created a blue background to make the plant pop off the page.
The holiday flower is a departure from what Yoel usually creates: watches made from paper. It’s something he’s even encouraged his classmates to join in on.
Molly Mullins, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Floro Torrence, placed third in the elementary division with her paper bird donning holiday words on its feathers against a multicolored background. She used color sticks, permanent marker, paper and glue to create her entry.
“I like art because I have a really big imagination, and if I draw it, I can let it all out,” said Molly.
Merriam also has the only kindergartener recognized in the contest.
Kinsley Robinson received an honorable mention for her snowman piece in the elementary division. Rather shy, Kinsley lets her art speak for her, but she did divulge that her favorite color is blue and that she used paint and construction paper to create her work of art.
Floro Torrence second-grader Darianold Mays Jr. also received an honorable mention for his piece featuring holiday lights, which he created using color sticks, acrylic paint and markers.
The IPS Holiday Art Contest has been in existence since the 1990s. It was started for high school art classes to help students with their portfolios. The top three or four entries were printed into Christmas cards and sold to make money for the high schools that participated.
But when IPS lost the ability to have the cards printed for free, the contest was expanded to include all grades. It’s a lucky break for the younger students who place.
“When we do this show, it shows everybody that we’re not just coming down to the art room to play. We’re coming down here to make good art,” said Merriman. “We do a lot of art studies, but for this contest, I’m really after them about learning what it is to make a good piece of work and have it displayed.”
Again, for Merriman, it’s not just about the win. She believes visual art also offers other benefits.
“The arts help students relax, because all they do all day long is study, learn, test. And when they get down here, they’re like, ‘Finally, we can relax. We can make art, and our teacher lets us talk,’” said Merriman. “They get to make art and express themselves and some of their feelings. They get to choose their colors. They get to read about other artists. So many of them are so stressed out, and the art room helps students.”
Congratulations to all the winners of the 2018 IPS Holiday Art Contest!
(Winners are listed by name, school, grade and art teacher.)
- 1st Place: Yoel Perez, Floro Torrence School 83, Grade 2, Merriman
- 2nd Place: Alice Anderson, Sidener Academy for High Ability Students, Grade 4, Guinn
- 3rd Place: Molly Mullins, Floro Torrence School 83, Grade 5, Merriman
- Honorable Mention: Kinsley Robinson, Floro Torrence School 83, Kindergarten, Merriman
- Honorable Mention: Darianold Mays Jr., Floro Torrence School 83, Grade 1, Merriman
- Honorable Mention: Caroline Grant, Sidener Academy for High Ability Students, Grade 5, Guinn
- Honorable Mention: Stella Diaz, George Washington Carver School 87, Grade 4, Mariutto
- Honorable Mention: Sua Bautista, George Washington Carver School 87, Grade 5, Mariutto
Middle School Division
- 1st Place: Stephanie Mejia, Floro Torrence School 83, Grade 6, Merriman
- 2nd Place: Joshua Denning, Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58, Grade 6, Matthews
- 3rd Place: Lexy West, Rousseau McClellan School 91, Grade 8, Flaherty
- Honorable Mention: Corey McCurtis, Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58, Grade 6, Matthews
- Honorable Mention: Maxym Chmeliwskyj, Rousseau McClellan School 91, Grade 7, Flaherty
- Honorable Mention: Rae George, Rousseau McClellan School 91, Grade 7, Flaherty
High School Division
- 1st Place: Francisco Diosdado, Arsenal Technical High School, Grade 12, Mason
- 2nd Place: Loreli Rodriguez, Arsenal Technical High School, Grade 10, Mason
- 3rd Place: Charles Shoemake, Arsenal Technical High School, Grade 10, Mason
- Honorable Mention: Savannah Taylor, Shortridge High School, Grade 9, Hankins
- Honorable Mention: Aniya Martin, Arsenal Technical High School, Grade 10, Mason
- Honorable Mention: Brandon Damian, Arsenal Technical High School, Grade 12, Mason