West Shore artists compete in international contest

Junior Marlee Krause is one out of many student artists across the country that will be entering their work into the international Ocean Pals Poster Contest, an environmental education-through-art program. Students ranging from elementary to high school will be submitting mixed media works by Dec. 22. The work will be displayed in New York and posted on the Ocean Pals website for the public audience to have access to and explore. By hosting its annual poster contest, Ocean Pals hopes to encourage the public audience to help prevent endangered species from reaching extinction.

“Entering into art competitions raises your ability as an artist,” said Krause, third-place winner of last year’s international contest. “You become more conscious about the art that you’re submitting and the techniques that you use. The more you produce, the more critique you get back, you say ‘well this one obviously wasn’t a winning one’ which tells you that you need to work on it, to help you improve in the future. I also think it’s a very good contest to enter. They have good prizes.”

This year’s Ocean Pals Poster Contest theme is “Magical Manatee,” emphasizing Charlie Harper’s style with a modernist twist. Elementary, middle school and high school will be separated into three categories. Students ranked in first place for each category will be rewarded with $200 U.S. Savings Bonds and a trip to the Cayman Islands.

“I really like the subject matter,” digital art teacher Jim Finch said. “Not every student is a painter. Not every student is a photographer. Not every student is a graphic designer. So I try to give them things that will feed their creativity and be an expression. I showed them different techniques and different styles to see what they can do with that. And I find, when I simplify some of these shapes, being that Charlie Harper has a modernist approach, I get success from students that have struggled. And I really love that for them, because now they have a voice, they realize ‘wow, I can do this, and I can do it at a really high level.”

According to Finch, Ocean Pals will sometimes decide to print artwork submitted into the show and sell it as different products, such as T-shirts and posters. Money generated from the show will be used to fund research for animal-protection organizations.

“So many times you drive by the lagoon and you don’t see what’s going on in it,” Finch said. “So many times you might go on a kayak trip and then all of a sudden you’re aware — wow, look what’s around me’ — and you really appreciate it. And when you learn to love and appreciate something, you want to protect it. You value it. And that’s the whole reason that I want to do this is for the art. It’s because it brings awareness to the community and maybe will protect it so it’ll be around for generations to come.”

By Monica Castellanos