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DVHS art students qualify for annual visual arts state competition

DVHS art students qualify for annual visual arts state competition
Christian Aleman-Rodriguez

Two Del Valle High School students' art pieces are competing for top honors at the annual state competition, placing them among the best of the best across the state.

Juniors Kaliyah Lewis and Yahir Vences-Mojica recently found out they qualified for the Texas High School Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) state competition. Hosted by the Texas Art Education Association, the event recognizes student creativity and commitment to the visual arts with events and competitions, culminating in the annual state competition.

“It's a blessing. Last year, we didn't have anyone make it to state, so it was exciting to have two students make it, not just two students, but three artworks since both of Yahir's artworks are moving on,” DVHS art teacher Katy Potts said. They would have submitted more pieces if they could have.

Although it was Kaliyah and Yahir’s first time making it to the state competition, they both hoped and felt they would advance because they knew the quality of their work as they labored for hours and hours to perfect their pieces. 

“I kind of knew we were both going to win because my original art pieces are different from everyone else's. When I went [to the competition], I saw a lot of beautiful drawings and stuff, but I think my pieces just stand out for sure,” Yahir said.

“I did have a feeling I was going to win,” she said. “When the judge saw it, they were quite speechless.”

They and their art teacher will find out how the three submissions stack up later this month when judges gather in San Marcos on April 26 and 27 to review all the pieces that made it to state. Katy emphasized that out of thousands of entries, only 113 qualified for state, among them, the three submissions from Kaliyah and Yahir. 

“So that's seriously a huge achievement, and I'm very proud of them both. I've helped them as best I can and guided them as best I can, but it really is 80% of them. They're the ones putting in the work. They're the ones who show up every day and get it done, and they are excited to do it,” she added. 

Katy said a combination of talent, dedication, and originality sets both students up for success in the classroom and the competition field. The young artists draw inspiration from various sources to create striking, vivid, and colorful artwork that presents a visual binge you’ll want to inspect over and over for all the tiny details. 

Kaliyah typically creates her pieces using oil pastels, and Yahir is drawn to colored pencils for his work. Regardless of the medium used, they both produce stunning artwork for competitions, but primarily for their passion for the fine art and expressing themselves. 

“The main way I talk is through my art,” Kaliyah said. She added that her mood inspires what she creates as well. 

“I kind of always see a vision in my head of what I want to draw. I don't sketch it on a piece of paper. I just go to the big paper and start with it. I use a lot of pictures on the internet. I like flowers, I like looking at a lot of nature… and the singer Kali Uchis for sure. She inspires all of my art, for sure,” Yahir added. 

Both artists aspire to pursue art in some way or another after school, and Katy is helping them get started. She’s looking to get the two to meet with college recruiters and make prints of their artwork so they can start selling their art now instead of waiting until graduation or college. 

“That's next step. It's one thing to be a decorated artist, have a portfolio, have your awards, and all of that. But I want to help them get scholarships and help them with the next step,” Mrs. Potts said.

DVHS had 37 students compete in the VASE competition and received regional medals for their hard work. You’ll see their work and the work of many other DVISD student artists on April 20 at the annual DV Fine Arts Fest, held at Del Valle High School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Yahir looks through both his and Kaliyah's art pieces on a table while Kaliyah watches
Kaliyah and Yahir hold up a couple of their art pieces for the camera
The other piece Yahir entered to the state competition. This features a skeleton head in the middle in a field of sunflowers, other flowers and butterflies fluttering around. The skull has mini skulls coming out of it connected by blood vessels.
Yahir's artwork in the VASE state competition. This one features a variety of skeletons surrounded by colorful flowers and butterflies of all sizes. A tiger peeks out from the bottom right corner of the piece.
Photo of DVHS student Kaliyah Lewis' artwork for state competition. It features a cityscape with crossing bridges filled with ballerinas. The forefront features a natural area with more ballerinas lining up to dance. The sky has hanging figures overlooking the scene.
Pictured are six pieces made by Yahir and Kaliyah. They each display the creativity both artists encapsulate.