WESTFIELD – Four budding artists representing the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield have been chosen to compete in an annual national competition, sponsored by Boys and Girls Clubs of America, after having clinched top spots in a regional contest.
“Our local contest, consisting of 180 youth submissions, was held in mid-January,” said Jesse Buckman, marketing and grants coordinator, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield. “A handful of local creative professionals, from various backgrounds, were invited to be on the judging panel and select our local winners in each age group and category.”
Buckman noted the only criteria the judges were asked to consider was the age of the artist and their application of their chosen mediums. After judges made their top three selections in each age group and category, the scores were tallied together to determine the local winners.
Buckman said the submissions from the local winners were then sent off in February to the Northeast Regional host site – the Boys and Girls Club of Fitchburg & Leominster.
“At regionals, our submissions competed in a second round of judging against youth from Boys and Girls Clubs stretching from Pennsylvania to Maine,” said Buckman. “We received word from the Northeast Regional hosts in July that our club has four youth art submissions moving on to the national level after placing first in their respective age group and categories at the regional contest.”
The local winners recognized are Kayla Wright, 10, a Fine Arts regional winner in the age 10-12 category of “Monochromatic”; Gianna Beluzo, 10, a Fine Arts regional winner in the age 10-12 category of “Collage”; Vitaliy Romanchenko, 9, an Image Makers Digital Photography regional winner in the age 6-9 category of “Nature and Surroundings,” and Olivia Mokan, 9, an Image Makers Digital Photography regional winner in the age 6-9 category of “Fashion and Design.”
The Fine Arts and Image Makers Digital Photography programs are coordinated by visual arts director Jocelyn Erickson.
“Fine Arts” is a year-round program that encourages artistic expression among club members ages 6-18 through a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, mixed media and sculpture.
The “Image Makers” program focuses on categories including portrait, nature and surroundings, fashion and design, culture and tradition, and editing and filter.
The “Digital Photography” program is offered in the late fall and members participate in a variety of activities which introduce different elements of photography such as lighting and composition.
“Club members can submit original artwork and photographs created in the last calendar year, into any one or more of the 18 categories to compete at the local level,” said Buckman.
For the local youth being recognized regionally and nationally, it is a rewarding feeling.
“I felt so surprised when I heard that my collage won at Regionals,” said Beluzo. “There were so many great pieces of artwork; it must have been very hard to choose. Now I can’t wait to see what happens at Nationals!”
Wright shared a similar sentiment.
“I do art because people out there in the world inspire me to draw, people are greater than they think they are,” said Wright. “They have not seen what they can really do yet, they have a talent greater than what they could ever imagine. So don’t give up, you are a winner no matter what!”
Romanchenko echoed that sentiment.
“I’m happy and excited,” said Romanchenko, adding, “It makes me feel like a good artist!”
“I feel very excited and proud of myself,” said Mokan. “It was a good surprise and now I want to keep taking more pictures and drawing more!”
Regional winning artists received a certificate of merit as well as a first-place ribbon, and each national winner will receive a personalized engraved plaque. A date has not been determined at press time for the winners to be announced at national headquarters.
Buckman added that all original visual artwork is professionally mounted and framed by Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA), then displayed at the national headquarters art gallery for one year. Additionally, all nationally winning artwork is professionally scanned and reproduced on stretch canvases to become part of a traveling art exhibit at regional and national conferences throughout the year. Winning pieces are also digitally displayed on the BGCA website.