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Art by Martin, Zhang chosen for State Superintendent’s Visual Art Exhibition

MADISON – Two students in Madison City Schools are among the top artists in the 2023 State Superintendent’s Visual Art Exhibition.

Rachel Zhang, a fifth-grader at Columbia Elementary School, and Aashima Martin, an eighth-grader grader at Liberty Middle School, received recognition for their talent in visual arts.

Sarah Baker is Martin’s art teacher. Zhang studied art with Sage Murine.

The superintendent’s contest celebrates students and their talents. Each school district can choose up to 20 pieces of art to send to Montgomery.

Baker encouraged Martin to enter the contest as one of only two allowed entrants from Liberty. “This is our fourth year in a row to place in the top five for middle-school art,” Baker said. “Placing in the top five against so many contestants is a big accomplishment.” Baker teaches advanced art, visual art and sculpting at Liberty.

“Aashima created a large self-portrait in graphite. The pose she chose is very casual,” Baker said. “Aashima is leaning on her hand and gazing at the viewer. She isn’t smiling in the picture, but she has a nonchalant, confident appearance.”

Students benefit in numerous ways by entering contests. “A contest can give them more exposure and help boost their self-esteem. Even if you don’t win, you can learn a lot from the experience,” Baker said.

“Depending on the contest, students may get feedback about their work, which can give them a different perspective. Students may also receive an opportunity to attend contest receptions or gallery openings if their work is accepted or wins,” Baker said. “Overall, it is a positive experience.”

Murine was teaching at Columbia last semester and encouraged Zhang. Now, Murine teaches at Madison Elementary School, four days/week for grades K-5, and at Heritage Elementary School, one day/week for kindergartners.

Murine describes Zhang’s artwork as a drawing of stacked forms, “actually a collage because each form drawing was created separately before they are cut and glued to two separate pieces of construction paper to give the artwork the essence of a still life.” The artwork measures 12 by 18 inches.

For her design, Zhang drew 3D forms on various pieces of construction paper. She pencil-shaded appropriate parts of her shapes to imply forms and where the shadows would appear due to the forms being stacked, Murine said.

Zhang’s design is based on a lesson that Murine taught about drawing 3D forms using a value scale for shading to give the illusion of sides and shadows for a 2D piece of artwork. “I encouraged Rachel and several of my students to allow me to enter their works in art contests so that they can experience how their works can be exposed to the community (locally, statewide, nationally and in digital images via the Internet) and showcase their talents,” Murine said.

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