By Mary Jo Fassié
In an effort to reach out to students and teachers in our area, Roanoke Valley Sister Cities launched its first annual Young Artists and Photographers showcases this year.
Using their imagination, creativity, and passion for world peace, students were asked to interpret the theme “We’re Going Places,” showcasing the importance of travel and
exchange in achieving peace. Students were encouraged “to draw inspiration from their experience with sister cities, travel, exchange, international friendships, and their goals to
present their vision of where the future will lead.”
The RVSCI showcases had two categories: art on the high school level and photography on the college level.
Schools and art teachers throughout the Roanoke Valley were contacted in January with information about the competition. The deadline for entries was March 31, when entries would be picked
up at the high schools and all photographs would be submitted electronically directly to RVSCI.
Judging was held at the Roanoke City Main Library. Three Roanoke-area artists, Brian Counihan, Chico Harkrader and Bill Saari, scored each piece of art and photograph on technical skills and how well the student artist expressed or interpreted the theme “We’re Going Places.” Prizes were awarded as follows: first place $200, second place $100, third place, $50, and 2 honorable mentions at $25 each. The top art prizes went to the following students: The first-place artwork was sent to Washington, D.C., where a panel of Sister City International judges will select grand-prize winners and
finalists based on originality, composition, and theme interpretation. Each grand prize winner is awarded $1,000. After the finalists for art and photography have been announced, their works embark on a yearlong tour hosted by local sister city programs on a monthly basis.
RVSCI hopes to sponsor this competition again next year as it was a great success. Many teachers have asked me to let them know the competition theme as soon as I receive it from Sister Cities International in order to incorporate it into their curriculum. Our thriving Young Artists and Photographers Showcases gave RVSCI an opportunity to connect with the community and engage local art teachers while reaching out to a student audience that may not already be included in our sister city activities.