AEP Young Artist Award

 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 2015 Young Artist Award Recipient, Cathy Park

Cathy is a rising senior at Langley High School in Mclean, Virginia. She has been an avid artist since she was young and says she is inspired every day by her wonderful family. She has two brothers, one of whom is also an artist. Cathy’s art has won several awards, including Scholastic Gold Keys and the Macdonald-Allen Scholarship. In her free time, she likes to play golf and read books.

Cathy received a National PTA Reflections® Award for Outstanding Interpretation for her watercolor artwork Unity (pictured below).

This is how Cathy describes Unity: “In Unity, the different bands coming out of the face demonstrate the facets of the world, including different types of cultures and people. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to experience the world around them, and although the world is filled with people so different from each other, we are all human. We all belong to the same planet and we all deserve to learn about cultural diversity.”

Interview with the Artist:

Can you tell us more about the piece of artwork, Unity, and what it means to you?

Unity is about showing how the world is made up of so many different places, so many different countries, but in the end we’re all one planet, we all belong to earth. And it’s just showing that, in accordance to the title, we all need to be unified, that we’re all the same people, and we’re all human.

That makes sense! So how would you say that art helps with cultural diversity? And how have you used art to help achieve that?

One ribbon in my artwork focuses on education—a vital part of learning about the world around you. I was fortunate enough to have a class in world history in which I got to learn about so many different cultures and customs from around the world, and it was great. But not everyone has that opportunity. Art is vital in that anyone can see art. It could be painted on the side of a building, or it could be in a gallery; everyone can see it. And although sometimes art might be difficult to understand, it’s not really discriminatory to anyone, regardless of age or education. So I think art is so vital to spreading cultural diversity because it shows everyone what the different parts of the world are like. I think that art is a great vehicle in showing others what culture diversity is.

As you mentioned with art being accessible to everyone, and making it easily accessible to everyone, what would you say to policymakers about why the arts matter in schools?

I think arts are so vital to education in school. Not everyone, especially me, is talented at science and technology and it seems that the arts, including visual, performing arts, or the humanities for that matter, are being ignored a lot. The arts are so vital to a student when they’re growing up, as well as in secondary education, because it provides a way for students to express themselves in a way that they can’t do in writing. So let’s just say that a student isn’t good at writing, and he wants to spread a message but doesn’t know how. In art, you can express yourself in a way that’s healthy, you can reach out to others. The arts allow a student to explore the depths of their imagination and what they can do in the visual arts, and even if you’re not good at it you can always improve. So yes, the arts are very, very important.

Do you have a teacher that’s been a positive influence in your life? Also, what, in general, do you think makes a good teacher?

So when I was growing up, my brother went to an arts studio. And that studio teacher, she introduced me to art. She had all of these great art supplies that were available. And I’m just a little kid, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, she has all 120 colored pencils!” My heart started racing when I saw a 24 crayon [pack] so imagine seeing this 150 colored pencil rack! But when she was tutoring my brother, showing him how to do something, I would be sitting next to her, and she’d say “Oh, Cathy, why don’t you doodle here.” So she would let me do these small, little projects that were so cute. We made these little papier-mâché bowls with animal heads on them; I still have mine. I don’t use it obviously, but from a very young age, she helped me shape my interest.

Let’s see – there are so many qualities [that make a good teacher]. Definitely what makes a good teacher is being encouraging and being brutally honest… If you have a teacher who’s always like “Oh, this looks wonderful;” always praising your work, that’s not going to help you improve. Sure it’s nice to hear. It feels wonderful, but you need to earn that praise. My school teacher is so wonderful. I love Ms. Stark. She is always so open to any idea, whatever I have.

How would you say you plan on using the skills you’ve learned through art in the future?

A lot of art is about self-discipline. A lot of the things I’ve learned throughout the years is that when you’re doing art, there’s so many times when you want to give up. “Oh, this one angle isn’t working out,” and you want to go cry to your teacher, “Ms. Stark, this isn’t working,” which I’ve done plenty of times. But a lot of it is telling yourself you can do this.

Art is great because you have these products that have come out of your time that you can see it, you can touch it. You realize, “Oh this is what I’ve accomplished.” You can see the rewards of your work and how it affects other people. And a lot of this self-discipline goes into other areas of study as well.

You realize a lot about yourself when you realize you come across an obstacle. How are you going to get over the fact that you can’t do this specific thing? So it teaches a lot about the human character and self-discipline.

Listen to the full interview with Cathy here.

A Special Thanks to the National PTA Reflections® Program