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Art Challenge will celebrate 60 years of Madison Heights

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published September 15, 2015

 Many varieties of art will be accepted into the Art Challenge. In 2013, this charcoal drawing by Justin Bui, then a junior at Bishop Foley Catholic High, was the overall runner-up. 

Many varieties of art will be accepted into the Art Challenge. In 2013, this charcoal drawing by Justin Bui, then a junior at Bishop Foley Catholic High, was the overall runner-up. 

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

MADISON HEIGHTS — Students in the local school districts have only been around for a fraction of the city’s 60 years, but for this year’s Art Challenge, they’re being asked to express the milestone in visual form.

Now in its seventh year, the Art Challenge is organized by the Madison Heights South End Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and aimed at students in grades K-12 in both the Madison and Lamphere school districts, as well as at Bishop Foley Catholic High School.

Notices about the contest went out to the schools earlier this year. Each piece is to be accompanied by an essay by the artist explaining the work and what it means to them.

“This year’s theme is more about perspective,” said Linda Williams, the economic and community engagement supervisor for the city of Madison Heights. “The most important part of the application is the short essay on what inspired the artist. This helps the judges to see it from the artist’s perspective, especially if it’s an abstract work. The judge may wonder, ‘What does this have to do with Madison Heights,’ but with the essay it becomes clear.”

In addition, all works must be original works that were made specifically for the Art Challenge. School assignments and previous submissions won’t be accepted. And all submissions must be family-friendly — nothing vulgar or inappropriate. They also shouldn’t involve live creatures or have ingredients that will spoil or go bad.

All kinds of mediums will be accepted: 2-D drawings and paintings, photography, sculpture, wood carving, metalworking, mixed media, CAD (computer-aided design) and more. Poems are also eligible.

The winners will be announced during a special reception in mid-November, tentatively planned for the Artists’ Lounge at Du-All Art & Drafting Supply. There will be prizes from the business sponsors as well. The contest is made possible entirely through private sponsorships; there are no public dollars paying for the event.

“Each year, it’s so emotional to see how giving the businesses are,” said Ruth Charlebois, a member of the DDA board. “I think the Art Challenge is a great connection between the businesses in the area and the students. Some students look for the opportunity annually, and they are inspired not only personally but academically to make these awesome projects they pull together.

“I think it affects their self-esteem in a positive way, since it’s an opportunity to shine,” she added. “They might not think they’re very good at something, but then they put together these pieces inspired by the theme, and they might be moved to do things beyond their comfort level and take a deeper look at the world around them.”

Last year’s theme was “My Madison Heights.” Previous themes were “Shaping the Vision of Madison Heights” (2013), “Made in Madison Heights” (2012), “Going Green in Madison Heights” (2011), “City of Progress” (2010) and “Spirit of Madison Heights” (2009).