Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Olympics of the Visual Arts 2016

Ever since I retired, I've annually volunteered as a judge at the fabulous Olympics of the Visual Arts.  OVA is a program/competition for students sponsored by NYSATA, the NY state art teacher's association.  *Note: The artwork in the first 4 photos in this post are from the sculpture category, and are each a sculptural interpretation of a piece of contemporary popular music. 
Styled after the Odyssey of the Mind model, OVA participating teams come from schools throughout the state, in elementary, middle, and high school levels, competing in both long term projects and a spontaneous competition.   The long term projects are based on tasks in selected categories. Students use research and brainstorming in their planning and are required to submit a portfolio documenting their work along with the final presentation.  The categories include sculpture, architecture, fashion design, drawing, painting, illustration, graphic design, and photography. You can see my previous annual OVA posts here (2015), here (2014), and here (2013).  To read more about the program, follow this link and this link to info on the NYSATA webpage;  to read this year's intriguing long term problems, hop on over to this link.
 The next batch of photos are from the photo category.  The theme had to do with reflections, and interpretations of the word were broad.  For example, the group creating the piece directly below was reflecting about toxic waste!  There were reflections on identity, and there were much more literal reflections as well. 
I was again a judge in the photography category.  We had more photography entries than in previous years, so we were judging and adding up scores until the last moment, including judging/scoring the spontaneous projects as well.  Unfortunately, this meant gobbling down lunch while we added up scores, and I had very little time this year to snap pics of the array of incredible work.  So forgive me if my photos aren't up to par!   Then I had to leave before the awards were given out, due to another commitment.  But at least I have a few fun photos to share with you!!
I was looking forward to seeing the Illustration category, since they were based on one of my all-time favorite poems from a favorite piece of literature: The Jabberwocky, from Lewis Carrol's Through the Looking Glass.  When I was in high school, my older brother gave me a copy of the Annotated Alice, and this book is still one of the most beloved books in my my personal collection.  Here's a few images from the student work based on this poem.
Here's a slightly better close-up of the piece above -

The painting category involved imagining a creative environment, an environment that would encourage creativity.

The fashion category is always everyone's big favorite, with the most entries.  The work is amazing!  Unfortunately, I didn't get to witness the catwalk modeling, which is the spontaneous portion of the fashion category.  But I did get to see some terrific pieces, still on their mannequins.  The theme was "Trashy", and the pieces are all made from paper products often found in the trash.  And no, the black dress is NOT made from duct tape.  Not allowed!!
 There were, along with the amazing outfits, several glamorous hats (like the one on the mannequin above, left) and this pair of adorable shoes below!!
I don't know if any other state has an event like OVA.  If not, you really should look at the model we've set up here in NY, and give it a try!  It's a phenomenal event, and it can be a pretty viable bit of advocacy for art education!


  1. I really think the fashion problem is one of the most creative than previous years. I thoroughly enjoyed viewing how students problem solved this one. AMAZING!

  2. You did a beautiful job representing OVA in pictures. It was an incredible competition with a very high caliber of talent.

    1. Thank you, Amy! I wish if had more time to look at it all. I don't even know what entries came from your school!