Lily Cooper, a freshman student in the Honors Program at the University of Nevada, Reno,earned a national gold medal in the 2012 Scholastic Awards from the National Scholastic Art Foundation, which was presented to her in New York last spring. Cooper received the award for a watercolor piece she had done of a picture of her grandfather, who had recently passed away, on his last trip with her to Ireland.
The piece, entitled "Irish Ancestor," was recently selected by the staff of The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to be included in Art.Write.Now.D.C, a special exhibition of national award-winning work from the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The process begins with more than 200,000 submissions nationwide and then narrowed down to the few that will be invited to be showcased at the exhibit. This year, 45 pieces, including Cooper's, will be displayed in the national office in Washington, D.C. The committee and the Department of Education organized a special day of celebratory events on Oct. 12, which Cooper attended, including a morning workshop and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"I got to hear the President of The President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities speak," Cooper said. "It was very motivating; what they were saying about how art is also tied to education, even though we often spend more money on things other than arts."
The piece was only the second watercolor painting Cooper had ever done, as she usually prefers to work with other mediums. She wanted something that wasn't as bold and was going for a more calm tone to the picture. Trying something new paid off, as Cooper now holds an award, which was presented to past national winners such as Andy Warhol and Robert Redford.
Cooper has plans to continue as an art major and is looking to get an internship to build a larger portfolio.
"I was pretty surprised to hear I had won the award," Cooper said. "I was surprised and really humbled by everything. I think it is a really big honor and has been very motivating for me. Before winning the award I wasn't sure if I should keep majoring in art, but after winning, I think I will."
Cooper's work has also been recognized with a scholarship by the Sierra Water Color Society. According to Jane Chapman of that organization, "Lily's work stood out for its skill, depth and artistic poignancy."
Find out more about the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.