Bridgitte Thao (17)
Grade: 12th grade, 11th grade at the time of placement
School: Woodbury High School, PSEO at Bethel University
Piece: The Unveiling
Award: Gold medal
Three SoWashCo students showcased their award-winning work at Carnegie Hall in New York City this past June. Among 40,000 other student participants and more than 260,000 pieces submitted, Bridgitte Thao and Shadia Seifedin received gold medals and Nicole Kim received a silver medal from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers’ Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program.
Bridgitte recalls countless days reading at the library with her father. Recognizing the power of words, she began to jot down her own ideas in a collection of notebooks she accumulated in the fourth grade. Now, Bridgitte has reconnected with those same collections. “At one point, I discovered the art of poetry. You can encapsulate so many emotions in so few lines, and I thought that was incredible, and I wanted to challenge myself,” she says.
The collection of poems is inspired by the structure of George Ella Lyon’s Where I'm From and features a series of items from her childhood that once held no meaning, but now have nostalgic significance in her older years, she says.
“I feel very proud of myself, but when I got the medal in the mail, I felt very proud of the people who came before me … Like my mom who is an immigrant and came here from China in 2003,” Bridgitte says. “Getting this medal was not only gratifying for me ... but it shows to my mom and others around me that hard work does pay off.” (Read The Unveiling at artandwriting.org.)
Seifedin says she uses art to express herself and her interests. Her piece, Still Life, combines her favorite pair of shoes (Vans she purchased in her native country of Ethiopia) with her favorite animal, a frog. “Ever since I was a child, I loved drawing and painting and everything that has to do with art,” she says.
As an avid art student, Seifedin was a part of Advanced Placement (AP) art courses and was encouraged by her teacher Tricia Schmidt to showcase her talent. “Winning this national award shows that I am capable of achieving things I never thought I could and also proves to me that my work in the eye of others is indeed good,” she says.
Experimenting with jewelry design from extra supplies from her mom, Nicole began crafting a treble and bass clef out of metal. Using those elements as the center piece of her bracelet, she also fused her favorite color purple into the mix. Her inspiration for the musical elements comes the role that music plays in her life as a violin, piano and clarinet player. “... [Playing] has helped me to face my fears because I have stage fright, and it helps me make new friends,” she says.
Nicole entered the competition to share her passion for visual and auditory art with others and was pleasantly surprised with the results. “It is a really big honor,” she says. “It has really motivated me to keep going.”
Shadia Seifedin (18)Grade: College freshman,
at time of placement
School: University of Minnesota, Woodbury High School
Piece: Still Life
Award: Gold medal
Nicole Kim (13)
Grade: Eighth grade, seventh grade at time of placement
School: Lake Middle School
Piece: Chain of Eternity
Award: Silver medal