Institutes Honor Aspiring Young Artists

Posted June 20, 2007 at 6:21pm

Life is better with art in it. Or at least that’s the message that leaders of the Art Institutes hope to send on Friday during an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill for the winners of a poster competition with that slogan as its theme.

The competition was open to all high school seniors who want to attend one of the 36 branches of the Art Institutes in the United States or Canada. About 450 students entered posters and 31 winners — one from each institute that participants indicated interest in going to — were selected.

The winning posters were then evaluated and ranked at the national level, and students whose posters made it into the top 10 will each get part of approximately $100,000 in scholarships to an institute of their choice. The grand prize winner, Alexa Melone of Canonsburg, Pa., chose the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and will receive a $25,000 scholarship there.

According to Tiffany Young, the public relations coordinator for the Art Institute of Washington, which will be hosting Friday’s reception, the theme of art making life better provides students with a healthy amount of room for creativity. “We don’t want anybody to have their hands tied,” she said. “We want them to be able to express themselves the way they want to.”

Melone’s poster shows the importance of art in life using a DNA double helix that has her past art superimposed on it. Her hand, holding tools for artwork, sticks up through the helix. “It really technically was well-done,” said Norm Huelson, the assistant director of public relations at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. “It was just a really quality, really simplified way of communicating the concept.”

Huelson was one of the judges who evaluated Melone’s poster in the initial round of reviews, during which each submission was given to the institute that the applicant wants to attend.

Friday’s reception for the 31 winners will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2168. Several Members of Congress are scheduled to attend and Senate Curator Diane Skvarla will give a speech.

Representatives from the Smithsonian and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities have been invited to view the artwork, which will be on display during the reception, but as of press time they had not indicated whether they could attend.

Skvarla, who is in charge of preserving and interpreting the Senate’s artwork, said that Capitol Hill in D.C. is an appropriate location for the reception, which will draw students from a variety of states. “Just visually, art is really everywhere you look in this city,” she said.