Looking within the art: the PTA Reflections program

November 12, 2019


Griselda Eychaner

A collage of entries for the Reflections program from Nersisyan’s class. Her entry can be seen at the bottom right.

The hardest part about making art is sharing it.

Art can be challenging to create, sure — there are many technical aspects that are hard to master. But sharing your creations that you put time and energy into takes a lot of courage. What if people don’t like what you create? What if they don’t care?

Because of this fear of rejection, people may avoid things like art contests, believing their work isn’t good enough or that they will lose anyway. 

One student in particular had trouble making the decision to share their work in the most recent PTA Reflections contest.

Nona Nersisyan, a junior, was assigned to make a piece based on the Reflections program’s 2019 prompt, “Look Within,” in her Design 3-4 class. The Reflections program is an annual arts contest run by the National PTA; over 300,000 students from Pre-K through 12th grade create and submit art. 

Nersisyan didn’t think she would enter into the contest — she was just doing classwork. “I didn’t think I was going to apply, because I don’t usually apply for contests like this,” Nersisyan said.

However, Nersisyan changed her mind when her design teacher, Paronikyan, commented on her work saying that it was good. 

Narsisyan was proud of it too. “I didn’t expect it to turn out well, but now that it did, and the teacher told me that it was good, I expect high achievements from it,” she said.

Sharing your work and entering contests can sound scary, but you have to be confident in your abilities. All Nersisyan needed to enter into the Reflections program was some encouragement from her teacher and faith in her own skills. 

For her part, Paronikyan is eager to encourage students to share their art with the world and enter into contests; she even requires a certain number of entries for some of her classes. So far, she’s been very pleased with Clark students’ work. “I’ve really been proud of Clark students, ever since I started working here, because it’s so awesome — there’s so many contests that we have to participate in on top of the curriculum that we have to do, but as much as we’ve participated, it’s just become more of an exciting thing.” 

Paronikyan believes the Reflections program is especially important for high school students; it’s fun, but it’s also challenging. She also loves seeing the art her students create for it. “I’ve noticed the ones that tell a story, and also have detail, have put more into it, more heart into it. [They] tend to come out more interesting.” she said. “The more the students work on it, the more details they add. If they connect with the artwork, then you can sense that, and it comes out more successfully.”

Nersisyan’s piece is an example of that connection. Hers tells a story based on a movie she saw where a girl is having problems at school. “The piece shows a diary behind the girl, and then it shows a ripped part on the diary showing her emotions. The paper is ripped, so you’re looking within the words to see what the emotions are that she’s feeling,” Nersisyan said. 

There are many different types of art, and therefore many different types of artists. Students create all kinds of art for the Reflections program: dance, music, film, etc. Some create emotional connections to their art, whereas some don’t. 

Although having a connection to one’s art can improve the emotion in it, it can also make sharing it more difficult, as it can make it harder to take criticism. Some just make art without attaching any type of deeper meaning to it. 

Angelle Adorable, a junior, made her piece for the Reflections program without attaching any deeper meaning to it; she just wanted to create something she liked. “I like to draw a lot of realistic things, so I incorporated that into my work,” Adorable said.

While creating art can be a lot of work, especially when adding a high amount of detail, it can still be fun to do. Nersisyan had a lot of fun while creating her art, despite the difficulties she had in making it. “I was excited to see how it would turn out,” she said. 

Ultimately, anyone submitting their art to a contest will face judgment on their work; but it’s a necessary part of participating. For those wanting to enter into an art contest, Paronikyan has this advice: “Go above and beyond. Connect to the theme, connect with your artwork, put your heart into it, and just do your best.”

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