The Arts Education Partnership’s AEP Youth in Arts Program recognizes and honors accomplished, talented students while shining a spotlight on supportive parents, dedicated teachers and thriving arts programs in the region of AEP National Forums. The Youth in Arts Program consists of the Young Artist Award, and student performing and learning experiences.
Young Artist Award Objectives
Develop leadership skills and build self-confidence among young people. The Young Artist awardee serves as an ambassador representing his or her school and community before a national audience of arts and education professionals. AEP coaches the student in developing and delivering brief public remarks focused on his or her perspective on the arts’ role in education.
Celebrate and foster educational and artistic excellence in America’s public schools and communities. AEP presents the awardees’s art program with an official certificate of recognition for excellence in arts education as demonstrated by the Young Artist and a donation for art supplies.
Recognize the “network of support”–parents, educators and schools–that contribute to student success. The awardee’s parents and teacher receive special recognition at the AEP Forum.
Meet the 2016 Young Artist Award Recipient, Xan McPherson
Xan McPherson is a rising senior at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Colo. She has been an avid artist since she was young and says she is inspired every day by real-life situations, books, music, movies and nature. Xan received a National PTA Reflections Award for the Believe, Dream, Inspire theme.
About the Artwork:
Interview with the Artist:
Can you tell us more about the piece of artwork, “Colors,” and what it means to you?
I decided to do the piece after visiting Aspen, Colo., and the Maroon Bells area. In the fall, when the colors are changing, it is incredibly gorgeous! I find watercolor makes it easy to showcase colors to blend and make it more appealing. I also wanted to inspire people to remember to look at nature to see how beautiful, colorful and inspiring it is. In this day and age, people need to remember how much beauty is around them instead of just being focused on their phones and own lives.
How did you get started in art and what is your favorite medium to practice?
In preschool, I started in a class called “Artful Journey,” where we were given something to draw each week and also introduced to different art mediums. I’ve also taken private lessons with a watercolor artist for about eight years. As I’ve continued in art, I’ve realized I really enjoy drawing. It provides the best foundation for any medium that an artist wants to work in.
What would you say to policymakers about why the arts matter in schools?
It’s important to keep art in schools because it teaches you to be creative, and that is a fantastic trait to have for anything you want to do in life. I want to be an engineer, and most people think you can’t be creative and be good at non-arts related subjects. I think it’s important to understand how to combine different traits to be well-rounded and a better person in general. Also, art is a good way to relax and get all your feelings out. It’s a great form of therapy, as well as fun and fulfilling.
How would you say you plan on using the skills you’ve learned through art in the future?
I want to be a physics engineer, which is sort of a more abstract, “you can’t see it,” type of area, so I think art has helped me realize there are a lot of different ways of looking at things. Being able to look at things in a different light in physics or math will help me find alternate solutions that are more efficient or effective, which will allow me to be a better problem-solver.