PROVIDENCE—Two local high school students have recently been recognized by Congressman James Langevin for their artistic skills and keen eye for the creative. Exeter-West Greenwich senior Eleni Giannopoulos and North Kingstown High School junior Devan Phillips were selected as top three finalists for Langevin’s 14th annual Rhode Island Second Congressional High School Art Competition.
“Rhode Island has a vibrant arts community, and that exceptional talent pool begins with our young people,” said Langevin. “I am amazed each year by the quality and originality of the student submissions, and I have no doubt that this year’s contestants will continue that tradition of excellence in art.”
The competition, which received 43 entries from students at schools throughout Rhode Island, was juried by members of the Wickford Art Association. Giannopoulos took first place with her piece, ‘Captain’s Dream,’ which jurors called ‘masterfully executed.’
“The entire composition was well placed, perfect rendering of darks to lights and showed great use of texture,” said the jurors. “The details were stunning- all with a pencil. The creative use of the rubber ducky shot this piece to the top.”
The Exeter-West Greenwich senior, who will attend New York University in the fall, said that her piece, which incorporates her ‘lucky’ rubber-ducky and boat shoes, is a reflection of herself living near the ocean.
“[The shoes] have an association with the ocean, and the ducky I named ‘captain,’” she said. “He has that child-like sense of, ‘yeah, he was meant for a bath tub, but is dreaming of bigger things like the ocean’.”
Giannopoulos credits both her mother and art teacher Elizabeth Lind for encouraging her artistic capabilities.
“She helps me out a lot, and has been really there for me through the whole art process and helped me grow,” said Giannopoulos of Lind. “I like to tell my mother a lot about the art process [as well], and she helps me develop my ideas.”
The EWG senior noted that she wants to continue both writing and art in college, hoping to continue her passion for writing children’s books, which combines both disciplines. Giannopoulos’ artwork will also be on display on May 31 at the Courthouse Center For The Arts in West Kingston.
North Kingstown High School junior Devan Phillips took third with ‘Tribal,’ an artistic rendering of her own photographic portrait which jurors said ‘was so well done down to the smallest of details that it quietly demanded to be in the top four.’
“The lighting was perfect, [and] the staging with the tribal make-up and brown eyes, and the disappearing fur hood into the blackness was powerful,” commented the jurors. “Her expression was tranquil but piercing. The colors jumped off the paper.”
Phillips, who was encouraged to submit her work to Congressman Langevin’s office by NKHS art teacher Robert Silveira, found turning a portrait of herself into an art piece was ‘a weird experience.’
“It is photography, so you have to set it up and edit it, [and] the most nerve wracking part is staring at a picture of your face and figuring out, ‘how do I make this amazing?’” said Phillips. “I realized that, after winning the award, people would see my face everywhere and it would be really interesting once they figured out it was me.”
“I had to think outside the box, so it is about challenging yourself to come up with something a lot of people have never seen before,” she added. “You become aware of every little detail and everything that might be wrong with it.”
The NKHS junior credited both Silveira and her mother for providing much needed guidance while developing her photograph.
“My mother was a photographer in high school and college, and she did some really amazing things,” said Phillips. “I have been taking pictures since I could hold a camera.”
“Mr. Silveira tells you how to get your notions out onto a feasible piece of work, which is completely awesome because you never expect to get that insight from people you are around all the time,” she added.
Although she was nervous about receiving the award from Congressman Langevin, Phillips was glad to have gone through a regimented artistic endeavor.
“It was a tremendous experience, that someone considers your work, something you put your heart and soul into, as something aesthetically pleasing,” said Phillips.