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MSA students capture art awards

Six students at the Mississippi School of the Arts placed in the26th annual Congressional Art Competition for Mississippi’s ThirdCongressional District.

MSA students placed first in four of the seven competition’scategories. Millie Row, of Meridian, captured the collage category,Deunte Ford, of Mendenhall, won in the painting category, Nathaniel”Nate” Lias, of Silver Creek, led the computer generated artcategory and Brittany Horne, of Macon, recorded the winning entryin the mixed media category.

Other winners included a second place entry by Alexander “A.J.”Province, of Collinsville, in photography and an honorable mentionfor Joel Wasser, of Brandon, in drawing, a category dominated byStarkville High School.

Parvanen Toghiani, of Starkville High School, was thebest-in-show winner and will attend a reception in Washington, D.C.The winning entry will hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year and thewinner will attend an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., withfree air fare for three people provided by Southwest Airlines.Toghiani also receives a $3,000 scholarship to the Savannah Schoolof Art and Design.

Anne O’Hara, visual arts instructor at MSA, said she was pleasedby the number of awards the students captured.

“The ones that won were basically all the ones who wereeligible,” she said.

Only students whose hometowns are in the Third District wereeligible to participate in the contest, regardless of where theyattend school, she said.

Lias, a senior, said he was “very shocked” when he learned ofhis winning entry.

“This is my first time winning anything in art,” he said. “Itwas a piece I came up with off of the top of my mind.”

Lias said he used to a computer to generate a fanciful piecethat represented “something as an entrepreneur I could see takinginto the future with me,” but he could not say exactly what theinvention would do.

Ford, a senior, said her winning entry was a portrait of hercousin Jordyn in acrylics. She used a photograph she took on avisit home for details.

It was the second award for Ford, who placed second in lastyear’s competition in the drawing category.

The win was also a repeat for senior Horne. She moved from thirdplace last year to first place this year in mixed media. Thewinning entry was a still life composition.

“I used ink for most of it and added water colors to highlightcertain parts,” she said. “I was very impressed with it when I wasdone so I’m happy about how I have improved.”

Rowe, the only MSA junior to capture a first place, said she wasexcited about the win and surprised her self-portrait in a collageof newspaper comics and words captured the interest of judges.

“I made my neck longer and I tried to look really regal,” shesaid. “The background was chaotic to represent how I have to keepmyself together no matter what is going on around me.”

Province credited the influence of artist David Hockney for hissecond place entry. The junior said he mimicked Hockney’s style oftaking numerous photographs of a subject at extreme angles andplacing into one comprehensive piece.

“When you put it all together you can tell what it is, but it’sabstract,” he said. “It’s really all about how you put ittogether.”

Wasser’s honorable mention used prisma colors to present aperspective piece of a factory producing planets.

“I spend a lot of time on it, so I’m glad I won something,” thejunior said.

An open reception for the winning artists will be held at theBrandon Public Library April 27 at 10 a.m. The winning entries willbe on display.

Third District Rep. Chip Pickering saluted the contest winnersin a press release.

“Every year I am impressed with the exceptional quality of ourstudents’ art,” he said. “These young people of diversebackgrounds, communities and experiences continue the legacy ofcreativity from Mississippi.”

Approximately 15 other works by MSA students will also be ondisplay during the reception, O’Hara said.

The Congressional Art Competition was open to students in theninth through 12th grades in public, private and parochial schools.Home school students were also eligible.