An Artful Evening
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By the time Raheel Raad finished her painting, she didn’t know if it was really any good.
Raheel, 17, took top honors at the 2016 Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus art show. Celebrating its 10th year, the show features the work of young artists. Students from 17 of the county’s public high schools submitted to the competition 188 mixed-media art pieces. Jurors selected 48 canvases to be showcased in the exhibit. Five students won prizes for their original works. (photo gallery)
The theme this year was Grab Bag: To commemorate past shows, a JHU staff member randomly selected a theme for each school from the nine prior themes.
Raheel, a Watkins Mill High School senior, painted to the theme “Secrets.” Her work, “Revealing,” features a woman whose chest is wrapped in yellow caution tape.
“When I heard the theme ‘secrets,’ I kept coming up with ideas. I thought of human problems that represent a secret. I came up with the idea of human trafficking. They aren’t able to live a normal life. They don’t have a voice because they are so secluded.”
Although she noted both men and women can be victims of human trafficking, Raheel decided to depict a female to “represent the fragility of being easily breakable.” The caution tape covers her organs, which Raheel says represents the obstacles that victims experience.
“They can’t share their secrets,” she said.
Raheel used grey tones in the background and in her depiction of the woman because she wanted to show that victims often go unnoticed. The yellow tape provides color contrast.
After learning she took first place, Raheel said: “I really learned to go after art even more. I see art as something that will continue in my life forever.” She said she hopes to major in biology and art in college.
An opening reception for the exhibit was held on campus in February. Parents, students and community residents gathered to view the art and hear the winners announced. The exhibit will be on display through March 25 in the lobby of the campus’s 9605 Building. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
The competing artists were selected by their high school art teachers. Materials and prizes for the contest were sponsored in part by the Rockville location of Plaza Arts, an art material and picture framing company. Nadine Kenific of Plaza Arts was a juror for the show.
The annual art exhibit is one of Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus’s programs for students in middle school and high school, designed to get students excited about STEAM education at an early age. The A in STEAM is for “art,” an important component of a well-rounded student’s education. (STEAM is an acronym for Science-Technology-Engineering- Art-Mathematics.)
The JHU art show allows students to communicate through visual literacy using critical and creative thinking. Preparing for the show also supports students’ social-emotional learning, said Linda Adams, fine arts supervisor for Montgomery County Public Schools.
“When I think of STEM, STEAM automatically comes to mind because STEM projects are often developed using a visual or creative approach,” Adams said. “With the JHU art show, the theme of the show supports a problem-based learning approach. In the arts, students need to be critical and creative thinkers. As critical thinkers, they need to see multiple points of view, analyze information and make reasoned judgments to solve problems. As creative thinkers, students need to see multiple ways to solve open-ended problems through flexibility, elaboration and originality of thought. The arts engage students in developing their curiosity and encourage our students to generate original and innovative solutions from complex and real-world problems.”
Below is a list of winners and comments about their work from the curator, Sherill Gross:
- 1st Place: Revealing by Raheel Raad of Watkins Mill High School: The first place winner presented such a striking image. It was strong and bold with a sense of vulnerability and honesty. There is a story there. This also was well done technically with a clever use of alternative materials. The placement and usage has a purpose. It immediately stood out from all the submitted canvases as something special. (The theme was Secrets.)
- 2nd Place: $28.50 by Max Maynard of the Visual Arts Center at Albert Einstein High School: The second place winner was so strong visually and technically as well. Again there is a story in the work that draws you in. There is a great balance of color with a clever composition. (The theme was Where You Live.)
- 3rd Place: Decision by Jirawat Khumbungkla of Northwood High School: This was amazingly technical and done with a skilled and patient hand. Doing something in a diamond and keeping the symmetry true is a feat. The colors are right, the composition is lovely and I could guess the theme before I knew it. (The theme was Looking In, Looking Out)
- 3rd Place: Reminiscence by Isabel Yoon of Quince Orchard High School: This was a humorous take on the theme. There was such a jovial quality to the work that it struck a chord. You want to sit across the person being portrayed in the artwork for a meal, and you know you will have a good time doing so.