NAHS artists receive recognition for creativity


Photo courtesy of Marharyta Kazak

Conveying the idea of compassion, NAHS member Marharyta Kazak stitches four quadrants together. Each quadrant of the painting represents a notion of compassion: hope (top), community (bottom), empathy (right) and recognition (left).

Julia Marriott and Hailey Cho

Unlike winning trophies, National Art Honor Society (NAHS) students are honored in a different way: the chance to display their work in recognized art galleries. For the first time in South’s history, NAHS students received national recognition for their artwork displayed in the Compassion Art Gallery, Stephanie Fuja, NAHS sponsor and art teacher explained.

Seniors Justin Manalang and Lizbeth Deloya received national recognition from the National Art Education Association (NAEA) exhibition by a jury of judges. Additionally, five NAHS students were selected to compete in the Illinois High School Esports Association (IHSEA) State Art Competition, according to Fuja.

“I was so excited that they got chosen,” Fuja said. “Our school got recognized nationally, which is a huge deal and these two kids should be celebrated.”

South held its second annual art gallery in early November to present artwork centered around the selected theme: compassion. Each school part of NAHS can choose up to 10 pieces to submit for the national exhibition, according to Fuja.

“I’ve submitted [the artwork] every year,” Fuja said. “We have never had any student accepted, [but] this year we had two students selected, which blew my mind.”

The IHSEA state competition will be taking place in March. NAHS member Marharyta Kazak was one of five students selected to participate in the competition. Kazak found inspiration for her selected project in a specific taboo close to her, she explained.

“My [theme] for AP Art is my Belarusian and feminine identities intertwining,” Kazak explained. “The piece is about hair and the importance that society places on hair and conservative hairstyles. Girls who go to school [in Belarus] were never allowed to wear their hair down.”

Due to the pandemic, Kazak and her fellow art students have been faced with many challenges, she explained. However, isolation has not prevented South artists from finding inspiration in new places. Although interaction among the art community is a significant part of becoming inspired, Kazak explained that social media poses a new form of communication.

“Isolation brings a bigger push to be on social media and you’ll get that connection,” Kazak said. “People feel more inclined to post their works and you get to see more art.”

Senior Emilija Radic, another student selected for the IHSAE state competition, also found various outlets allowing her creativity to thrive despite isolation barriers. Using nature as her inspiration, Radic’s piece that was chosen for the state competition consisted of a tea set inspired by nautilus shells. Radic’s past artwork of an octopus inspired her to add shells to her tea set, she explained.

“I love animals and nature,” Radic said. “[I] actually want to go into marine biology so the natural world inspires me a lot.”

At the moment, Radic is hopeful for a time when she can see other artwork in person again. No artist has just one style and art is often random and left to be interpreted by others, Radic explains.

“I love seeing other people’s creativity,” Radic said. “That’s what inspires artists, it’s seeing other artists.”