Joy and creativity propel winning artwork
The singing angel seems to burst with joy right off the paper, proclaiming Christ’s birth to the sheep and shepherd below.
"It makes me smile," said judge Carey Hernandez of the work by kindergartner Katie Bell of St. Bernadette School and Parish in Bellevue – the grand prize winner of the Catholic Voice’s seventh annual Colors of Christmas art contest for kindergarteners through sixth-graders.
"Uninhibited," and demonstrating "raw emotion," also describe Bell’s watercolor, said judges Theresa Smith and JoAnn Donner.
According to Bell, it took her only a few moments to do, as she and the rest of her art class worked on the project one day at St. Bernadette. But it was enough to rise above a record 2,914 other entries from across the archdiocese to take first in her division – kindergarten through first grade – and top all of the entries from the other divisions, second and third grade, and fourth through sixth grade.
The angel is happy, the angel is singing, Bell said, "because Jesus was born."
Not that judging the contest – which was underwritten by Catholic Mutual Group – was easy. All three judges noted creative entries, such as those showcasing Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem within the confines of a tree ornament, or depicting them from behind, led by an angel along a road to the star over the stable.
They pointed out strong storytelling in depicting Christ’s birth found in the Gospel of Luke, verses 1-20, as well as tender moments between Mary and the baby Jesus, and elegant silhouettes under starry skies.
Donner, who teaches reading and art to kindergarten through eighth-graders at St. Augustine School in Winnebago, also took advantage of the contest in her own classroom, noting the opportunity to discuss the faith and encourage creativity. Smith and Hernandez did the same.
"I read the Bible passage offered and we discussed the story," said Smith, who teaches art to fourth- through eighth-graders at St. Gerald School in Ralston and third- through eighth-graders at St. James/Seton School in Omaha. "We talk about how Christ’s birth is the true meaning of Christmas and how we can draw or depict that holy night."
"It is a wonderful way to remind us of the reason for the season and reflect on the birth of Christ," said Hernandez, an art teacher in kindergarten through eighth grade at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha. "The students love to brainstorm ideas."
In addition to having their artwork published in this issue of the Catholic Voice, contest winners took home gift cards from participating sponsors The Cosgrave Company and Gloria Deo Catholic Books & Gifts, both in Omaha, and Divine Truth Christian Store in La Vista.
Bell won $125 in gift cards – $50 as grand prize winner and $75 to take her place among other division leaders. Second place winners received $50 in gift cards and third place $25.
And for the first time this year, the Catholic Voice recognized honorable mention winners in each division.