In this award season filled with the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys, OHS art students have been winning some prizes of their own.
Nineteen OHS art students entered the regional Mid-South Scholastic Art & Writing Competition, competing with students from Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. The competition is an annual event that features drawing, photography, painting, and other works, and is presented by the Brooks Museum League and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
According to junior Bhakti Patel, who entered the competition and took home two awards, art teacher Ebony Johnson alerted her students to the competition.
“Mrs. Johnson offered it to anyone who wanted to compete and helped us choose, edit, and enter different pictures,” she said.
According to sophomore Lauren Chandler, whose photography also placed in the contest, choosing which pictures to enter was not easy.
“We had a couple other competitions before this one, but Scholastic has definitely been our biggest so far,” Chandler said. “It was hard to pick exactly which photographs to enter, but I knew I wanted to enter a variety, so I chose some in black and white and then a couple of color ones.”
Oxford High School students took home 24 awards, four of which were Gold Keys, the highest honor, which were given to sophomores India Austin and Taylor Ross, Patel, and senior Jordan Repka. Ross also was awarded the prestigious Sue Dickerson Memorial Award, which came with a cash prize of $250.
Ross chose which photographs of hers to enter by keeping in a mind a major issue of today.
“The photographs I entered were ones from my body of work based on immigration into the United States,” Ross said. “I decided to enter these photographs because of the major debate over immigration policies today.”
Ross was not sure how well she would do when she entered the competition but was very pleased with her results.
“I was really shocked when I found out that I placed and did so well,” she said. “I didn’t expect to even place, because there are so many phenomenal photographers.”
Taylor has plans on how she is going to spend the money.
“I plan on buying a lot of stuff on Amazon or Etsy,” she said.
The art program has seen many changes this year, including a greater emphasis on photography. Ross appreciates these changes.
“Photography wasn’t a big thing in my life before I took Mrs. Johnson’s class,” she said. “I would just take a picture and not really think about the factors that go into it.
“Mrs. Johnson and the photography class have helped me so much. It has shown me that there are countless ways to make and see art. I’m planing on entering more competitions.”
Johnson is pleased with how the art students who participated did in the competition. So is her husband, who also happens to work as an art teacher at Oxford High.
“Duran Johnson and I are both happy with how they did,” Ebony Johnson said. “Many of the students had to work countless outside hours to prepare for the competition. Schools that we competed with have been working on their project since last January. Each school has 11 months to prepare, and we only had four months.”