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Holton Student's Artwork Recognized in NIH National Competition

Holton Student's Artwork Recognized in NIH National Competition

A few years ago, Sophia G. ‘27 made a New Year’s resolution to paint every day for a year. One year turned into a second and then a third. Now, in June 2024, Sophia has an ever-increasing number of sketchbooks, paintbrushes, and canvases covering her desk. Sophia ends each day with 30-60 minutes of focused painting. This love of painting and channeling of her energy and focus led her to enter the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) Art Challenge. Sophia’s entry received a second-place finish in the teen category. “It initially felt scary to enter an art competition,” said Sophia. “I felt like I was being judged on something in which I put a lot of time and creative energy. However, I realize that entering competitions allows other people to appreciate my work and hear the messages I want to convey.”

ODP selected 10 young artists from across the country to receive cash prizes for their original art showing what people or communities can do to prevent disease and injury, support well-being, and promote more equitable health outcomes for everyone. The contest encouraged teens and young adults to share their ideas through their art about how prevention can help improve the health of people in the United States.
Sophia said, “When I saw that the competition sought artwork related to public health, I immediately knew I wanted to create a painting about vaccinations. COVID-19 hit my family especially hard. During the pandemic, I became aware of the importance of protecting vulnerable people in the community by getting vaccinated. I also became aware that getting vaccinated was a good way for kids, who may have felt somewhat helpless, to step up and stop the disease.” 

This led Sophia to the theme of heroism. She likes to paint young children’s faces because they are able to express their feelings in a genuine and authentic manner. “Capturing how younger kids communicate such strong and unfiltered emotions is an effective way to convey any message,” said Sophia.

In describing her painting, Sophia wrote, “The boy is emphasizing that, despite his age, he is a hero by getting vaccinated. The boy’s band-aid has a Batman symbol, a superhero the boy seeks to emulate. And, the boy is posing like Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of encouraging people to take action and be heroes.”
Sophia’s award-winning painting, as well as the other winners of the ODP contest, can be found on the NIH website.

Sophia credits Holton and her US Painting and Drawing Art Teacher Ben Ferry for her growing interest in art. She appreciates being able to visit the art studio during her day to take a break, clear her head, and focus on something that she loves. The art studio and Mr. Ferry provide Sophia with what she needs to develop her skills and to explore different kinds of painting.
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