Picture perfect

By Allison Hamburger

Four student-designed murals will be painted on the walls of the Skid Row Homeless Shelter after winning the Volunteer of America Los Angeles High School Mural and Art Contest.

Artists Darby Caso ’14, Matthew Mantel ’12, Natalie Markiles ’13 and Erin Pindus ’13 were among six first-place winners. Sixteen Harvard-Westlake students submitted their artwork, nine of which placed in the competition.

Wendy Chen ’13 and Maya Landau ’13 won second place prizes. Sarah Shelby’s ’13 painting won third place. Ruby Boyd ’12 and Eugenie Lund-Simon ’14 received honorable mentions.

“There were upwards of 70 or 80 entries so I wasn’t really expecting to win,” Pindus said. “I didn’t flip through them all, but the ones that I saw, especially the ones from other Harvard-Westlake students, were really good.”

The entire school will be invited to help paint the first place winners’ art on the walls of the shelter in the spring, visual arts teacher Marianne Hall said. Depending on how much space is available on the walls, second place art may also be painted, she said.

“It will be cool to see everything there and see how it lays out and see the process,” Mantel said.

The art was judged by the shelter’s residents, professional muralists and art teachers. Prints of the winning art and other submissions will be exhibited either at the shelter or in a gallery, and some may be given to inhabitants’ rooms.

“The people who lived there were so moved by a lot pictures that they asked if they could have a print to hang in their room,” Hall said.

The shelter also intends to use the images on greeting cards, both to be sent as holiday cards and to be sold to benefit the organization, Hall said.

Participants chose a particular wall to submit for, each location requesting a specific theme with key words to consider, such as harmony, gratitude for veterans, home and nature.

All themes were intended to convey a positive message, the contest website said, including the artists’ choice-themed wall.

Since the 11th graders in Drawing and Painting II were working on an expressionist class project, which could portray any emotion, Markiles, Pindus and other 11th graders submitted their class work, which they purposefully made cheerful to fit the contest guidelines.

Caso, who takes Drawing and Painting I, and AP Studio Art student Mantel made their winning paintings outside of class. Caso said mural painting intrigued her, so she saw this as a good opportunity. Mantel and Caso agreed that the most time-consuming aspect was coming up with an idea.

The students uploaded digital images of their art and an artist’s statement to the competition in mid-October.

Though the majority of Harvard-Westlake submits were paintings, the contest was not limited to just the one medium.

“Their work was great, but I always think their work is great, so I was very happy for them,” Hall said. “They really put their hearts in it.”

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