Record breaking amount of Bowie artists proceed to State VASE


Photo Courtesy of Juluissa Elias

Sophomore Juluissa Elias illustrates her dog in dramatic lighting. Elias explained that the hardest aspect of the creation process was making the dog in the painting resemble her own dog.

Sammie Thompson, Dispatch Reporter

Before school closures were in effect, several Bowie visual arts students competed in The Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE): an annual art competition in which students submit their work to be judged and possibly chosen to proceed to the state competition. 

 “The VASE Competition is a regional event held every year in late winter. It is open to all eligible visual arts students,” Art teacher Laura Dubois said. “They are put into divisions based on how many visual arts credits they have. For example, Art I is Division I and AP Studio Art is Division IV.”

Ten students were selected to advance to the state competition this year. These students are: Cristina Canepa (10), Ryan Driscoll (11), Juluissa Elias (10), Rae Gray (11), Jackson Joyner (10), Savannah Nuhn (11), Melvin Osting (9), Luci Papiez (10), Evan Stein (11), and Hailey Vogt (11).

“Every year, Bowie has several students advance to State VASE. However, I have been told this year we had the most students advance to State VASE in Bowie history:10 students, 11 artworks,” Dubois said. “Both of Jackson Joyner’s artworks advanced to state.”

Sophomore Juluissa Elias, who has not participated in VASE with Bowie before, expressed her initial shock at being selected to advance to the state competition.

“When my teacher told me I qualified I thought I must have read the message wrong,” Elias said. “I was so happy and surprised.”

Junior Evan Stein has participated in VASE several times before, but this year’s experience of advancing to State was new for him.

“I have competed in VASE in both my freshman and sophomore years, and I did pretty well but never made it to state before,” Stein said. “This year I put a lot of effort into making really good pieces to hopefully make it far.”

Part of the VASE Competition includes individual interviews with a panel of judges. The judges then decide which select number of pieces should be chosen to advance to state.

“[Judges] look for originality, creativity, public speaking skills, style, personality, etc. [They] follow a rubric with the following categories: Purpose, Technique, Personal Expression, Organization, and Integration,” Dubois said. “If a student gets scored in the top category of a “4”, their artwork goes into a room based on their division. After all judging has taken place and all “4s” are in the appropriate division rooms, multiple judges take the top 10 pieces to advance to state.”

As well as being able to meet with judges about their own work, students also have the opportunity to view other pieces from their region.

”This year was really fun because I got to go with friends and my judges gave me a really in depth interview,” Elias said. “The other art pieces and the variety of art styles was also interesting to see.”

Eligible visual arts students are allowed to submit up to two pieces for judgement. The pieces can be either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, but they must meet the High School VASE Rules and Policies.

“My artwork that I made is of a hand holding a plastic water bottle, but inside the bottle is a whole landscape,” Stein said. “I used acrylic paint on a decently large canvas to create it.”

Several students expressed that they put a lot of effort into making their piece the best it could be. Elias explained that one of the challenges she faced in this process was trying to make her art realistic and unique to her.

 “My art piece was a dramatic lighting portrait of my dog. I had to take a picture of my dog in the shadows and then I used color pencils to draw it on a black paper,” Elias said. “It took a while to get all of the shades accurate along with the proportions so it looked like my dog and not a random dog.”

There is not another event after the State VASE Competition. However, a select few earn scholarships at the state level.

 “I’m not really sure exactly how state will go, but I think my art was pretty good so I am excited,” Stein said.

Dubois expressed her pride in being able to watch her students create their art and advance to higher levels of competition.

“I am proud of all of my students who participated in the Regional Event back in February. Their artwork was beyond amazing and impressive. Not only were the pieces realistic, but each piece truly illustrated creativity, their personal style and stood out from the majority,” Dubois said. “Art helps to improve your problem solving and critical thinking skills. We can all learn how to draw, paint, or sculpt well, but the artwork needs to be personal and creative to be more special. It was a great experience to see their process of creating these works in my classroom.”

To view a full display of all of the artists’ work, use the link here.