Students dominate at VASE

49 medal at regional, seven qualify for state

Coppell High School junior Isabella Lucio art piece Topsy Turvy qualified her for state in the Texas High School Visual Arts Scholastic High School Event (VASE). VASE is an annual event in which selected art compets and is displayed to appreciate students’ visual media, this year it will be held in late April.

After spending hours painting the background of her piece, Coppell High School junior Emily Chang stopped, ran the canvas under water and picked away the acrylic, spending the next week repainting the entire piece out of frustration, just for it to reach VASE perfection standards.

On Feb. 1, CHS art students submitted their pieces to the Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE). Of these artists, 49 received one or more regional medals for their division and seven students qualified to compete at state.

The Texas VASE competition will be held on April 29-30 at San Marcos High School. 

Typically, regional VASE is held in person where students display their artwork and are interviewed by judges who rate their pieces on presentation and artistic skill. For the past two years, however, regional VASE has been virtual due to COVID-19. 

To submit their pieces, students filled out a form that included a questionnaire regarding each piece, a JPEG of their artwork and a reference PDF that included preliminary sketches and rough drafts. This virtual process lacked an interview, simplifying entry for the competition.

“It was a little easier [without the interview],” said CHS sophomore Scarlett Bilobenes, a VASE state qualifier. “I could rewrite and put the right words in the [questionnaire], and I could make it nice and concise.” 

This year was CHS junior Ashley Zhang’s third year qualifying for state, but her first year with two qualifying pieces. Her artworks No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk and In the Middle focus on her high school life.

“No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk is about my habit to overthink situations in the past that have already happened,” Zhang said. “What I want to tell myself is I shouldn’t be stuck in the past and I should learn to move on from the event. The second piece, In the Middle, is about how I simultaneously have the desire to change and move out of my comfort zone, but I also have the fear of changing and trying something new. I wanted to capture the feeling of being stuck.”

CHS junior Isabella Lucio’s piece Topsy Turvy qualified her for state VASE. Similar to Zhang’s pieces, Topsy Turvy represents the nature of the artist’s life.

“My piece is a representation of my high school life, how chaotic it is, ” Lucio said. “Seeing it all come together in the end in the way I wanted it to was very rewarding.”

Luico qualified for state for the first time her sophomore year, but this year is the first year she will attend the competition in person. 

This year is CHS sophomore Tanvi Rudrangi’s first year to qualify for state VASE. Her artwork, Apprehension, depicts how COVID-19 caused her cousin to face separation anxiety from her parents. The process of creating this piece pushed Rudrangi further than she expected.

“It was difficult to get that fabric look,” Rudrangi said. “It took a lot of my time, and it was very stressful. I started losing patience because it was so difficult. I had to finish this in one month, but I usually take at least three to four months to make one artwork. [VASE] definitely taught me how to use my time wisely and just go with what you have instead of spending so much time on one thing.”

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