Before completing her eighth grade year at Rancho Milpitas Middle School, 14-year-old Misha Chaturabul left a lasting impression with her artwork titled, “Thank You,” which was a winning selection of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s 2020 Young Artists Showcase and Silicon Valley Reads Competition.
“The funny thing is I didn’t submit my artwork voluntarily,” said Misha, a promising art student in James Coulson’s class this past year at Rancho. Coulson gave his students a five-month notice for submitting to the Young Artists Showcase and required all of them to enter their artwork.
“I had forgotten about the competition because of the pandemic,” added Misha, whose mother notified her that she was a first-place selection in the competition. “I was really happy and a bit shocked.”
The theme for the 2020 Showcase was “My Voice,” with an idea that reflected emotion, imagination, creativity, and originality. It was something that Misha gave deep thought to while developing her acrylic-painted piece. View her winning artwork here.
“It was something that I was a little conflicted about at first. I was going to do something on global warming. A few days later, I changed up the entire idea completely,” said Misha of her thought process. She finally decided on “a dedication to all the people in my life--family, friends and teachers--who have been there for me and supported me and helped me grow as a person.”
Misha’s art piece has two central figures embracing in a hug, as images of lightness and darkness fill the background, with a message stating “don’t worry, I’ll be here for you” and her response of “Thank You.”
“The hug was symbolism of them being there for me,” shared Misha. “I wanted to use symbolism in my piece so I researched different birds and flowers to see which ones were associated with hope, kindness, peacefulness and light.”
Her use of doves and dandelions on the light side, and ravens and ghosts on the dark side were the result of her research into symbolism.
“(Art) is my favorite class. I like the creativity and that art can be subjective, realistic or abstract, and that there are a variety of mediums to use, both traditional and digital,” said Misha, who attended Zanker Elementary prior to Rancho and is headed to Milpitas High School in the fall.
Misha’s artwork, along with all the 2020 winners, will be displayed in the building of the Santa Clara County Office of Education which hosts the largest collection of student adjudicated art in the state, according to organizers.
“Programs like the Young Artists Showcase and Silicon Valley Reads are crucial to the educational experience, and give students a platform to express their talent and creativity towards a cause that is important to them and our community,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools.
Misha was one of two Milpitas Unified School District winners. Russell Middle School seventh grader Thi Le was a first-place winner in the Silicon Valley Reads competition for his piece on Annie Kenney, a women’s suffragette and leading figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union. View Le’s winning piece here.
Marking the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, the contest asked students to create a physical or digital poster based on a historical figure that best represented this year’s theme of “Women Making it Happen,” which explores impressive historical accomplishments, and looks toward the future as women are defining who they are as a gender as well as what is achievable. Le was one of seven students selected to win the prestigious award based on how well they conveyed factual information about the individual, the impact of their work, and how we can continue their fight for equality.