by Jim Boyle
Martin Luther King Jr.’s spirit as a dreamer is alive and well in the hearts and artistic hands of at least four Elk River High School seniors.
They were among nine semifinalists in the high school division to be recognized last month at the Minneapolis Convention Center for their contributions to the “The Dream @ 50 Art Contest.”
The Elk River High School students to rub elbows with WCCO’s Reg Chapman who served as the emcee and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Ryback were Cayla Weatherly, Tyler Cundiff, Cara Fromm, and Jordan Mathewson. Weatherly also came away with first-runner up honors for her graphite depiction of King.
High school students like Weatherly and Mathewson seemed to easily grasp the idea of dreams, perhaps because they have some of their own. Weatherly is an aspiring neuroscientist, with notions of offering up medical illustrations to help her way through school. Mathewson, is an aspiring graphic designer, with one more line filled to fill in on her college scholarship forms. She has applied and been accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She applied noting she had entered a couple prestigious art contests. Now she can report she was a semifinalist for the Dream @ 50 contest and she is awaiting word on how she fared in a Scholastic writing and art contest, she said.
“This was really an honor,” she said of the Minneapolis outpost of the Dream @ 50 contest.
“I knew the whole Martin Luther King movement was a big thing but I thought it had shifted away from being as big a deal,” she said. “I have learned that it’s still a big deal.
“His dream is getting there, but there’s still a ways to go in certain areas (to make it a reality).”
The focus of her entry into the contest was “Standing Together.” Mathewson states that it was people standing together that made a difference back when King was alive and that is how more progress will be made now.
“Without it happening nothing could be accomplished,” she said.
Weatherly keyed in on the idea that King was a dreamer, a fact she highlighted by a Harriet Tubman quote stating “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”
She appreciated being around other artists as passionate as she is about her craft, and she was amazed at the level of respect King still commands.
Weatherly’s dream is to someday research neurological diseases. Art serves as a release from the busy demands of such a pursuit. In order to take the art class that she created her King drawing in she had to juggle her anatomy class and five other college level courses. She also had to sign up for an independent study to get art class she wanted, she said.
“It’s a lot of work, but I like pushing myself,” she said.
So did Martin Luther King Jr.
Students, and parents and teachers alike were blown away about the success of Elk River students in the contest, with nearly half of the semifinalists coming from Elk River High School in a contest open to all metro-area schools.
“I think it says a lot about the arts program at the school and the talent in the school,” said Nina Mathewson, the mother of Jordan Mathewson.
About the contest
THE [email protected] is a tribute series for the 2012-13 school year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Including a student art contest, a world music/dance festival, and video PSAs, THE [email protected] is a celebration of creative collaboration in both the Civil Rights Movement and the arts as the foundation for a new paradigm in how we can live together.
THE [email protected] Art Contest was offered to K-12 students in ten U.S. cities including the Minneapois/St. Paul area, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Memphis, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and and San Francisco/Bay Area.
Students are invited to create artwork inspired by a word or phrase from The Dream Speech, with the artwork titled accordingly.
Each participating school or after-school program selects a winner to be submitted on-line for the selection of the semifinalists. All submissions must be made through a designated representative of the participating school or after-school program.
A jury of distinguished judges will select from the semifinalists one winner and two runner-ups in each of the three school categories (Elementary, Middle, and High) and one over-all Grand Prize winner, for a total of ten winners. The winners will be announced in an awards ceremony hosted by each of the cities in January/February 2013. Gift card prizes will be presented to the winners as well as to their teachers (for use in the classroom).
The Grand Prize winner from each of the ten cities will be honored in a special Capitol Hill awards ceremony and exhibit to take place in August 2013.
The aim of The [email protected] Art Contest is to clarify the relevance of history for our young people, to demonstrate the vital importance of the arts in education and daily life, and to build stronger communities based on mutual understanding and respect.