Young artists showcase their work in Montgomery County campus exhibition

Annual exhibit is designed to get students excited about STEAM education, which combines the arts with traditional STEM fields

Karis Lee was one of only about 10 students in her grade when she attended private school. After sixth grade, she transferred to a Montgomery County public school, with hundreds of students in her class.

That transition, the now-16-year-old recalled, was a challenging time for her. What helped, she said, was when students at her new school recognized her talent for art.

That talent propelled her to take first-place honors at the annual Johns Hopkins University art show for her piece titled Renewal. The acrylic painting depicts a girl with peacock feathers; the feathers represent pride. In the painting, the girl is trying to remove feathers from her hair, but they keep growing back. The pride the girl has is symbolic of the pride Lee said she felt when people recognized her artistic talent.

Two women stand beside a painting of a woman with peacock feathers for hair

Image caption: Karis Lee, of the Einstein Visual Arts Center, with her painting, Renewal

Image credit: Carlo Pizarro

The theme of the show was Transitions, so that's why Lee reflected back on that stage of her life.

"Before you are able to renew yourself, you have to let go of your pride," Lee said. "She's upset because she can't get rid of the pride no matter how hard she's trying. ... Pride isn't seen as a good thing in society. If you want to be seen as a better person, if you want to renew yourself, you have to let go of the pride."

The art show is now in its 12th year. Students from 17 Montgomery County public high schools participated this year and now have their art works on exhibit at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County campus through March 16. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Of the 213 works submitted, jurors selected 51 to be showcased. Six students won prizes.

An opening reception for the exhibit was held on campus in January. Parents, students, and community residents gathered to view the art and hear the winners announced.

The exhibit is one of JHU's programs designed to get children excited about STEAM education—a play on the STEM education model, which integrates science, technology, engineering, and math. The A in STEAM is for "art," an important component of a well-rounded student's education.

Lee is a junior at Winston Churchill High School and takes art classes for part of the day at the Einstein Visual Arts Center. She has taken private art lessons.

She found out about the JHU art competition a few days before winter break, but didn't receive a canvas until less than two weeks before the due date. "I only had 10 days to work on it," Lee said. "Ten days! I was freaking out!"

Below is the complete list of winners:

First place: Renewal, by Karis Lee of Einstein Visual Arts Center
Second place: Beneath the Brave, by Amanda Fischer of Quince Orchard High School
Third place: Goodnight Fall, by Sadie McBride of Quince Orchard High School
Honorable mention: Sewn Up, by Caleb Boyd of Springbrook High School
Honorable mention: Brood X: Emergence, by Madeline Hook of Northwood High School
Honorable mention: White-Haired Girl, by Karen Lee of Quince Orchard High School