2013 Student Cover Art Contest Winners
You wouldn’t immediately gather, from his self-portrait, “Keep it Classy,” that Robert Yu struggled with self-confidence his freshman year at Piedmont High School. He presents himself in this year’s first-place winning image—his second winning cover in as many years—as a young man with casual elegance and a comfort in the way he looks, moves, and interacts with the world.
Entering his senior year at Piedmont High, Robert said he built up his confidence through art, dance, and martial arts. “My mother, one of my biggest supporters in everything I do, along with my siblings, encouraged me to join art and dance in high school as a freshman. Initially, I was timid to be the only male in my freshman dance class but it actually turned into a very positive experience.”
Robert, who loves hip-hop and break dancing, is on two U.C. Berkeley dance teams, choreographs pieces, and teaches dance to other students at U.C. Berkeley and Piedmont High. After winning last year’s Monthly cover contest, he continued his visual arts studies at Piedmont High, with plans to take AP Art this coming school year.
As if he’s not busy enough with dancing and painting, Robert maintains a 4.3 GPA and hopes to pursue a career in science or medicine. He serves as an officer for several high school clubs, including president of the Asian Student Union. He holds a fifth-degree black belt in wushu (a form of kung fu), is a member of the U.S. National Wushu Team and competes nationally, having won more than 225 martial arts titles.
Robert’s love of dance and visual arts comes together in his self-portrait. During his junior year, he created a solo dance piece to the R&B song “Adorn” by Miguel and costumed himself in the vest, tie, and burgundy shirt. By painting himself in his “Adorn” persona, he expresses his belief that people can do whatever they set their minds to. He notes that the shirt’s color “has a very chic and classy feel to it, subtle but loud enough that you notice it. I feel like this color really embodies my personality because I seem quiet at first glance, but after you get to know me, my personality is vibrant.”
Odessa Blackmore loves water, whether she’s gliding over the surface as a rower for the Oakland Strokes club team or diving into a lake and surrounding herself with the beautiful silence. She also admires the bold colors and expressive strokes of paintings by her favorite artists, who include Matisse and Van Gogh.
These loves all came together in the pencil drawing she created for her second-place winning piece. “Make a Splash” vibrantly shows a girl diving into water, with the surface breaking into an explosion of blues and greens and images of waves and bubbles.
“I always like doing anything underwater where you can’t really hear anything,” says the Piedmont High junior. “I also wanted to show the colors of the water, all the things happening that you don’t necessarily see.”
Odessa has been drawing since she was young and regularly taken art classes at school. This summer she graduated to oils during a painting intensive workshop at UCLA, and she volunteers for PAINTS (Promote Arts in the Schools), a nonprofit that supports art programs in Piedmont K-12 schools. While she’ll continue to row and swim for fun, she’s strongly considering focusing on art as a future career.
“I definitely want to go to a university in California and possibly study art,” she says.
The 11-year-old artist behind the mischievous drawing of a little yellow monster popping out of a school backpack likes doing all kinds of things—like many 11-year-olds. Of course, Josephine Fernholz likes to draw and gets lots of encouragement from her artist grandmother. But she also likes to read, go on walks around her Berkeley neighborhood, and get around her yard on a pair of stilts. She has also studied trapeze arts and likes gardening.
In fact, Josephine’s love of gardening made her incommunicado when we contacted her for a comment. Josephine was at a two-week sleepaway camp on the Peninsula where the focus is organic farming, says her mother, Amelia Fernholz. Josephine will also have a chance to garden when she starts at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. The school is the location of Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard Project.
The sense of humor and spontaneity in Josephine’s drawing is very much her, Amelia Fernholz says. Josephine happened to come across the announcement about The Monthly’s 13th Annual Cover Art Contest—the day before entries were due. “She had never really entered a contest before, and she just sat down and drew it. It was literally a last-minute thing,” Amelia Fernholz says. Josephine came up with the idea of the monster in the backpack. “It’s a friendly monster,” her mother notes. The drawing done, she and her mother had to rush around the house looking for a mailing envelope large enough.
The camp Josephine is attending also has farm animals, and Josephine likes those, too, especially cows. “Hopefully, she won’t want us to get one!” Amelia Fernholz says.
HONORABLE MENTION: Kenna Camper, “Waiting for Waves” (color pencil); Aden Kinne, “Euphoria” (pen and ink); Tiger Leet, “Mountains” (acrylic).