Marin County Art Classes Join for the Youth in Arts “Rising Stars” Contest


Jocelyn Rojas, Contributor

I walk into a room full of students with graphite-smeared palms and concentrated expressions. The walls are collages of art movement and color theory posters. Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” is playing in the background. Pounds of art supplies challenge small shelves’ ability to hold things up. Wooden tables are splattered with different colored paint display student work. Room AR207 is the perfect environment for the winner of the “Rising Stars” art contest.

On February 2nd, the SRHS art department took yet another victory when student Amelie Benicio won the title of “Best of Show” at the Youth and Arts 28th annual art contest.

Sophomore Amelie Benicio, won “Best of Show” with her charcoal drawing of a “Crazy Eyes” from the popular Netflix show, Orange is the New Black. “I really liked the expression she was making and how much character she had”, explains Benicio.

Youth in Arts’ “Rising Star” contest was open for students in art classes from all around Marin. Art teacher Ms. Yis says, “It was a way for private and public schools to come together to display their work.”

The artworks are displayed at the Youth in Arts Center downtown through March. Then they are showcased in the Marin County Fair. The artwork is then taken to other galleries all over the country. Most of the students involved in the contest are in AP Art so they chose the option to take their art work out early because it is a part of their art portfolio that needs to be sent out to the College Board.

Ms. Yi acknowledges that, “Having student work out there is a big deal. There is a lot of great work that happens in the classroom, but if it is not being displayed or receiving feedback, people won’t know there are a lot of talented high school students out there.”

Participant in the contest Ashley Maldonado explains, “I was really surprised to see the amount of people actually looking at other peoples work.” She adds, “[The contest] opened doors I didn’t even know were there.”  

This contest allows each high school in Marin County to select twelve students to participate. “I had to see the students working hard in class and showing originality,” explains Ms. Yi.

The art pieces displayed in the show did not have to follow specific criteria. Assignments were given in class and together, Ms. Yi and the selected students, chose the piece that would be entered. “The assignment [in class] was to do a portrait of someone with newspaper,” says Benicio.

This is not the first time a student has received recognition for their artwork. There a multiple awards given out by community members throughout the school year. Scholarships and art supplies have been, and continue to be, awarded to students for their potential as young artists. Still, Ms. Yi recalls, “In all of the years I have taught, no one has won Best of Show.”

The “Rising Stars” show served as exposure for the young artists of our SRHS art community and proved that art is capable anywhere. This is especially important because, “These students come from diverse backgrounds and [the art department] wants to support every single kid.”

“When one of my students wrote a whole essay prompt about her experience in art, I realized that this class can be a big deal,” explains Ms. Yi. Having student artwork out in the community reveals the hidden potential in classes that may have a huge significance in a students life.

“I think it’s powerful.”