Friday, May 1, 2015

Olympics of the Visual Arts 2015

The creativity amazes me every year.  Today, for the third time, I served as a judge in the statewide OVA (Olympics of the Visual Arts) competition, held down the road in Saratoga Springs.  I've talked about OVA on this blog before, here, and here, but if you don't want to hop over to the old posts to read, let me just briefly explain.  OVA is styled after the Odyssey of the Mind model, with teams in elementary, middle, and high school levels competing in both long term projects and a spontaneous competition.  The program is sponsored by NYSATA, my state art educators' association.  The long term projects are in categories such as sculpture, architecture, fashion design, drawing, painting, illustration, and photography.  You can read official information about OVA here, and see the official problem categories and what each challenge was this year here. Students have to provide documentation of research, brainstorming, and their creative process as part of their long-term problem presentation.  The work is extensive.
Above, students are spread out working on their spontaneous problem solutions.  This is just a tiny portion of the 4 rooms filled with students and their incredible creations. 
This was my 3rd year judging the photography category, and I love being able to participate. But somehow, in the midst of all my judging and eating (yes, they provided a yummy lunch for judges) and exploring, the above project was unfortunately the only photography piece I actually snapped!  It was a middle school entry, and was the only entry that used projection in their presentation.  For their 'forms in nature' project, they had explored the Fibonacci sequence in nature.  They had a rotating and constantly changing video projection in the middle of a giant sunflower they had built.  The above photos do not do it justice. 
The sculpture problem had to do with deconstructing and reconstructing materials.  The above piece drew a lot of attention, but when I got a closer look, something inside me was really disturbed by the concept of all those poor broken Barbies, that should be having their hair done and wearing glamorous clothes, and going on dates.  I am a child of the original Barbie generation, and I don't care how politically incorrect or non-feminist Barbie is; I did and always will love Barbie.  You can read a little more about my Barbie obsession here.  The two pieces pictured at the top of this post are also sculptures from deconstructed materials.

I was fascinated with this piece, consisting of 4 hamsa hands with tiny peepholes.  Inside the peepholes were mini tableaus.  What an original concept!
 looking inside:

 Meanwhile, the fashion category is always the most popular.  For their spontaneous project, they have a fashion show.  As a judge in a different category, I unfortunately haven't gotten to see the fashion shows, but I hear they are fabulous!  The pieces below are constructed entirely of paper, and are based on works by artists.
 Below, my absolute favorite (I love the Picasso painting that inspired it); I would have loved to see this in the fashion show!
 There was so much incredible student artwork I could show you, but I'll close with a few fun pieces, including an amazing black and white re-creation of van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles.  Re-imagining/re-interpreting a famous work of art in black and white was the core of the painting problem. 
 I mean, how cool is that???!!?!?

Congratulations to all the student artists who took the time to participate in OVA, build their portfolios, and bring their projects to completion.  You kids rock!!


  1. Thanks for sharing Phyl. I am jealous that my state does not have this event. I love the Hamsa's!

    1. Yes, I also loved them. It was such a surprise to look in the peepholes. Such creative thinking on the part of the students.

      As for the event, I don't know that it exists anywhere other than here in NY. It was the brainchild of a former NYSATA president, and while he's been retired for a while now, he still is the the person who makes it all happen every year. So basically all you need to do to have an event like this is to propose it, organize it, and make it happen!!!

  2. I am speechless, Phyl! I have never seen work like this from students! I wish I had known about this years ago Cuz I would have volunteered to start it in my school district. I think it is so great that you get to be a judge and see all of these great works up close. Way cool!

    1. Pat, the amazing thing is that my photos are just a small sampling of what was there. I didn't get any pictures at all of the drawing and illustration categories, for example. So much creativity, but also, so much effort! The kids spend a lot of time preparing for this event, since their binder of research and brainstorming and process is part of their overall score. And the coaches are simply coaches. The ideas really come from the kids and the work is all done by them. Totally awesome.

  3. I was there, it was so much fun!! :) it was great to see all the amazing art! Our team did the dots dash diagonal one with the alphebet blocks, you can see it alll the way in the back in your third picture lol.