A virtual VASE gallery of MAC state finalists

14 MAC visual artists advanced to state VASE, so we decided to create a digital exhibit to celebrate their creative success

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Raleigh Margulies

“The Nostalgic,” by senior Raleigh Margulies was one of 14 pieces by Mac artists chosen to advance to state VASE. “The piece of my sister holding a chicken is basically a happier depiction of our actual life,” Margulies said. “It’s reminiscent of life before the pandemic, yet taking care of the chickens is one of the things that hasn’t changed much.” Unlike most aspects of life, Margulies feels like this year’s VASE competition was actually improved by a virtual format. “Normal VASE is usually an all-day event and involves a lot of waiting around, so it can be kind of boring. The interviews are a bit nerve-racking,” Margulies said. “I actually liked VASE this year. It felt more relaxed for the students.”

The regional level of the Visual Arts Scholastic Event named 14 works from Mac visual artists as state qualifiers. Only 52 pieces from McCallum’s region advanced to state level competition, and of that 52, 28 were from AISD schools—meaning Mac artists made up half of the district state VASE selections and more than a quarter of the works that qualified from the entire region.
Ceramics teacher Carey West said in an email to the faculty that the visual arts teachers are proud of all the Mac students who participated in this year’s VASE, which was made virtual because of the pandemic.

“We are proud of the hard work, dedication, creativity, and extra effort it took to submit,” West said.

Senior Raleigh Margulies was one artist whose art has advanced to state. Unlike most events that have become virtual in response to the pandemic, Margulies feels like VASE was actually improved by adapting to an online format. Instead of a typical commute to San Marcos High School where students would undergo a lengthy interview process, this year contestants were able to submit photos of their work and their accompanying artist statements online.

“Normal VASE is usually an all-day event and involves a lot of waiting around, so it can be kind of boring. The interviews are a bit nerve-racking,” Margulies said. “I actually liked VASE this year. It felt more relaxed for the students.”

At state level VASE, advancing pieces are judged once more and a select few are awarded Gold Seals. Students attending the event are able to compete for scholarships and take art workshops. Like regionals, the state competition will also be hosted online, with details still being decided as the Texas Art Education Association determines how best to format the event.

—story by Bella Russo

Edie Birkholz, “Flossie”

"Flossie" by Edie Birkholz
Freshman Edie Birkholz’s piece, “Flossie,” is partially inspired by her grandfather. “The title comes from a story about my grandfather and a piece of floss he apparently carried around everywhere and reused,” she said. The assignment in her Design 1 class was to use foreshortening, so she decided to play with phone angles and selfies to exaggerate the perspective. Virtual VASE was Birkholz’s first experience with the competition, and she was “sort of glad [to not have an interview] because it’s a little scary having to talk on the spot like that.” However, Birkholz is ready to practice the on-the-spot interview skills for next year. Reporting by Olivia Capochiano.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Lily Christie, “Growth”

"Growth" by Lily Christie
Junior and first-time VASE finalist Lily Christie is shocked that her sculpture, “Growth,” made it to state. “I didn’t really have a concept, so I was just kind of making it up as I went,” she said, “but I ended up liking what I came up with. I really enjoy portraying old people in general, and I thought the concept of forever growing was interesting.” This project took Chrisie two months to sculpt and two weeks to dry, fire and paint. “This was my third bust,” she said. “Sculpture is my preferred medium.” While she has no clue what’s in store for her art at the state level, she is happy to have made something that she is proud of. Reporting by Evelyn Griffin.

 

Sahara Cumberbatch, “Distorted Dream”

"Distorted Dream" by Sahara Cumberbatch
Sahara Cumberbatch is a VASE state finalist for her piece "Distorted Dream." She said that in her piece she wanted to convey a hallucination with lots of bright colors. "I didn’t think I was going to send it to VASE at first, but by the time I was done, I was so proud of it that I wanted to see how it would do in competition!" Her VASE success continues a near lifelong love of art. “I started doing art in kindergarten.” Cumberbatch said, “That's the earliest memory I have. I like art because I can express myself. I like the process of having like a vision in my head and being able to put it out into the world." Reporting by Kate Boyle.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Marina Garfield, “We All Bleed the Same”

"We All Bleed the Same" by Marina Garfield
Marina Garfield’s “We All Bleed the Same” is strategically shocking and made to be memorable. “I chose to work with a simple color scheme to make the visual even more jarring,” Garfield said. “The most important element is the embroidery on top of the menstrual pads. They’re the backbone of the piece, and they hold meaning to the women who see and connect with it.” As well as color, the textures Garfield used made her piece unique. It was hand-embroidered, adding extra depth and interest to the art. “I love to create feminist embroidery pieces because I love juxtaposing a classically feminine craft with a deeper meaning,” Garfield said. Reporting by Ellen Fox.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Sabina Guardado, “So True Bestie”

"So True Bestie" by Sabina Guardado
SO TRUE BESTIE: Sophomore Sabina Guardado’s state finalist piece is a mixed-media painting of a friend that combines portraiture with a more contemporary style of expression: memes. By combining imagery, Guardado’s goal was to create a piece that represented her friend's personality. “I compiled a bunch of references, memes, etc. of things I know she likes,” Guardado said. “I wanted to have fun with it so that I could give it to her as a gift—I sort of made it up as I went!” In creating her piece, Guardado started with a background of colored pencils and then slowly built up layers of watercolor for the portrait. “It was a little meticulous when it came to doing the lettering, but for the face and hair I mostly freestyled it,” Guardado said. “I didn’t think I was going to send it to VASE at first, but by the time I was done, I was so proud of it that I wanted to see how it would do in competition!” Reporting by Bella Russo.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Finn Jensen, “Early Bird Gets the Worms”

"Early Bird Gets the Worms" by Finn Jensen
Freshman Finn Jensen’s piece was among the 14 Mac student works that were selected as VASE state finalists. His portrait depicts an image of himself pouring a bowl of worms for breakfast. His inspiration for the piece came from a photo he had taken of himself pouring cereal. “One of the prompts for the piece I was going to create was ‘create a normal looking piece with one strange element to it,’” Jensen said. “I liked the idea of that, so I went with it. I eventually decided I wanted to do me pouring cereal but instead of cereal, worms were falling out. I also changed the Reese’s puffs box I took the photo with into a parody brand called ‘worms.’ I thought it would be funny." Reporting by Alice Scott.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Zoe Lynch, “Pelican by the Ocean”

"Pelican by the Ocean" by Zoe Lynch
Junior Zoe Lynch was inspired to create her work “Pelican by the Ocean” by a photo she took in Florida. It is an intaglio piece, a type of printing that is created by engraving a design into a surface to print. “What I really focused on while making this piece was capturing all of the details of the bird,” Lynch said. “I wanted to make sure I was using lines as a way to express the flow of nature around it (the pelican).” Her piece shows the beauty of a pelican sitting on a ledge, each feather and textured created with small, fine, detailed lines that renders the pelican delicately and accurately. Reporting by Josie Bradsby.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Raleigh Margulies, “The Nostaglic”

"The Nostalgic" by Raleigh Marguiles
"The Nostalgic," by senior Raleigh Marguiles was one of 14 pieces by Mac artists chosen to advance to state VASE. “The piece of my sister holding a chicken is basically a happier depiction of our actual life,” Marguiles said. “It’s reminiscent of life before the pandemic, yet taking care of the chickens is one of the things that hasn’t changed much.” Unlike most aspects of life, Marguiles feels like this year’s VASE competition was actually improved by a virtual format. “Normal VASE is usually an all-day event and involves a lot of waiting around, so it can be kind of boring. The interviews are a bit nerve-racking,” Marguiles said. “I actually liked VASE this year. It felt more relaxed for the students.” Reporting by Bella Russo.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Andrea Paredes, “Harmony”

"Harmony" by Andrea Paredes
Senior Andrea Paredes lived in Mexico City until she was 6 years old and moved to the United States. Her piece, “Harmony” reminisces on that time, and the memories she has. “My memories and dreams wrap around me like quilts with a sense of comfort and warmth,” Paredes said. Made with acrylic and colored pencils, Paredes’ piece offers a variety of color and vibrance to the viewer. “I think my favorite part is the colors,” Paredes said. “I love how vibrant this piece came out; it made a real change in my art style. Now I use more color in all my pieces!” Although the artists won’t be able to compete in person, Paredes is still looking forward to state VASE. “I’m super excited. I’m definitely sad about not being in person. I always enjoyed taking advantage of the workshops they offered.” Paredes does not plan on stopping art anytime soon; rather, she plans to continue to study art in college, majoring in advertising design. Reporting by Anna McClellan.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Valentina Paredes, “My Existence”

"My Existence" by Valentina Paredes
Valentina has stayed artistically active during quarantine. She says that the time to herself has allowed her to find more creativity as an artist. “During school, we’re kind of all forced to start new projects and finish them quickly, but having my own time to come up with my own concepts and really do what I think is important has been really inspiring to me,” Valentina said. “I actually did a piece over the Black Lives Matter protests. I did that over quarantine, and I think it really inspired me to just work on what I want to do and not really have a set deadline to meet or anything, it’s just up to me to finish it.” Valentina said she feels a sense of duty to use her passion for art to make a difference. “I felt like, since I’m an artist, it would be very important to use my voice and something I like doing the most,” Valentina said. “I couldn’t really go out and protest, so I think that was a motivator for me to use what I love to do to bring awareness to the cause.”
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Bella Russo, “Road Trip”

"Road Trip" by Bella Russo
Bella Russo’s inspiration for her piece came from the many road trips she’s taken with her family. On those trips, the journey truly is the destination, and according to Bella, the drives are one of the best parts. She says they give her a feeling of freedom, which she wanted to convey in her artwork. “I wanted to combine the images I associate with those feelings of freedom together,” Bella said, “so I used my sister as the portrait and gas stations because they are so magical to me.” The final result is a piece of artwork that portrays not only the visual but emotional aspects of a road trip. Bella believes that this is why her painting stood out during VASE. “People tell me the painting makes them nostalgic,” Bella said. “Hopefully the judges felt that a little too.” Reporting by Evie Barnard.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Gage Sanchez, “Kids in the Shadows”

"Kids in the Shadows" by Gage Sanchez
Junior Gage Sanchez qualified for the state level of the Visual Arts Scholastic Event, one of 14 qualifiers from McCallum. His piece, “Kids in the Shadows,” is a depiction of the plight faced by many immigrant families attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. In the piece, a child’s face with a passport stamp on it appears inside a suitcase filled with letters. “The child’s face has a passport stamp on it to show that once the parents are allowed to immigrate into the U.S. they can see their children once again,” Sanchez said. “The letters resemble the limited communication these children may have with their parents across the border.” Sanchez thinks that art is a vital and underestimated form of activism. “Art ... creates a window for those who struggle putting things into words,” Sanchez said. “Even when I was making this piece, words couldn’t explain my thoughts and intentions so I relied on visuals to communicate my meanings and symbols.” Reporting by Samantha Powers.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Reia Williams, “Me and Them”

"Me and Them" by Reia Williams
Junior Reia William’s piece, “Me and Them” is a representation of the evolution of her style and artistic process throughout the years, as well as the reappearing characters in her artwork. “I was kinda inspired by what my process has turned into over the years, where instead of coming up with an image and putting it on paper, I just start drawing and see how it comes out,” said Williams, “I was inspired by the characters I draw the most frequently or that had the most meaning.” Her piece is mixed media, made up of many complex layers containing prismacolor pencils, watercolor, acrylic, and patterned paper. She started it off by ripping holes in the paper around the main portrait to create dimension. “I completed the realistic parts of the main subject with the prismas and then painted the striped background with watercolor,” said Williams, “I then painted the acrylic, stylized parts of the top layer to give it a clean look.” She finally added a back layer using the patterned paper, attached with some foam board to create depth, painting in a favorite little characters jumping in between layers. “It was interesting to me, looking back at the characters I drew the most and thinking about how that’s what my emotions look like I guess.” Reporting by Lucy Marco.
State VASE galleries through the years

 

Reese Youngblood, “Prism of a Golden Boy”

"Prism of a Golden Boy" by Reese Youngblood
Senior Reese Youngblood has been making art ever since she could remember. Her piece “Prism of a Golden Boy” was inspired by last summer, which she says felt different from previous years. “This past summer, to me, was different in that I was swimming and soaking in the sun, while simultaneously navigating important conversations about the state of our nation and the distortion of our future,” Youngblood said. “I wanted to capture the kaleidoscopic culmination of youth with pandemic politics and new perspectives.” She created the painting by developing the faces, starting with the most detailed, and then blending the piece together along with adding patterns to finish it out. She also likes to use the color scheme to characterize her subjects and add dimension to the piece. “I chose to submit it to VASE because I think it’s part of an important stage of my development as an artist: that time that I painted as a coping mechanism in the heat of a global pandemic.” Reporting by Sofia Ramon.
State VASE galleries through the years