Posts Tagged ‘Holly Smith’


Artwork at the Capitol in DC

May 14, 2014

Congressional Art Awards announced

Congressman Michael Michaud and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree are delighted to announce the winners of the 2014 Congressional Arts Awards in Maine’s Congressional districts.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.26.40 PMCongressman Michaud congratulates Jessica Chen a senior of Bangor High School for her winning artwork, “Floating,” which is a pastel. Congresswoman Pingree then announced that Elena Laustsen, a junior at Oceanside High School East in Rockland, as winner of the 2014 Congressional Art Competition for Maine’s First District with her color pencil drawing, “Salmon.”

“This year we had another impressive batch of submissions from some of Maine’s talented students,” said Michaud. “Congratulations to Jessica and all of the runners-up for their outstanding work. I can’t help but smile with pride every time I walk into the Capitol and pass the artwork on display from our district.”

The runners-up and honorable mentions also all hail from Bangor High. Siblings Abbey and Morgan Kidder received first and second runner-up, respectively; while Nick Fournier and Shirley Yuen received honorable mentions.

“The quality of work that Maine students produce for this competition is always impressive—and this year was no exception. I’m very proud to have Elena’s lovely study of a salmon represent our District at the Capitol. It says a lot about the wildlife and natural places that make our state unique,” said Pingree. “My thanks and congratulations go to all the students who participated this year, the art teachers who’ve fostered their talent, and the Maine Arts Commission for coordinating this fantastic event.”

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 5.26.50 PMThe judges also recognized the work of four other First District students—1st runner-up Caitlyn Duffy of Gorham, 2nd runner-up Veronica Jones of Readfield, and honorable mentions Elizabeth Brown of Manchester and Theresa Gervais of Chelsea. And from the Second District – 1st runner-up , Abbey Kidder of Bangor 2nd runner-up Morgan Kidder of Bangor, and honorable mentions Shirley Yuen of Bangor and Nick Fournier of Bangor.

The 2014 first place winners, Elena Laustsen and Jessica Chen will be joined by four runners-up from each congressional district when they meet with representatives from the Congressional Offices at a Blaine House reception held in their honor. This event is the culmination of a close partnership between the Maine Arts Commission and Maine’s Congressional offices. Both of Maine’s congressional delegates support this program enthusiastically and have provided their full support throughout the process.

CONGRATULATIONS to proud art teachers Holly Smith, teacher of Elena Laustsen, Sarah Dolley teacher of Caitlyn Duffy, and Linda Phillips, teacher of Veronica Jones and Theresa Gervais, Kal Elmore, teacher of Jessica Chen and Shirley Yuen, and Eric Hutchins, teacher of Morgan and Abbey Kidder and Nick Fournier.



Another Student’s Story: Natasha Shacklett

December 11, 2012

Featuring one student’s journey

This is the first in a series of blog posts telling story’s of students who are passionate about the arts. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity to about the importance of the arts through another voice. You might want to share them with others. If you have questions or comments please post them at the bottom. These student’s might be middle or high school students or perhaps adults. If you have a story to tell please be sure to request the questions by sending me an email at

Natasha Shacklett, Oceanside High School, grade 12

Natasha Shacklett, Oceanside High School, grade 12

“As a child, I grew up around art and I’ve always loved to draw. My design for the cover of our yearbook wasn’t very premeditated; I sat down during the class and just did it. For future plans I’m applying to both art and culinary schools and I hope to do something with both in my future.”

Natasha Shacklett is a grade 12 student at Oceanside High School in Rockland. She is presently enrolled in AP 2D Studio Art with veteran art educator Holly Smith.

What value do you see in taking a dance, music, theatre, and/or visual arts course?

I think that there is great value in taking any kind of arts class. Art allows people to express themselves through creativity. Dance, music, theatre, and visual arts classes provide a place for people to be themselves.

Name three skills, ideas, or life-long tools that you have learned in your art courses?

I’m not sure that I can put what I’ve learned into a list. Sure, I’ve learned techniques and how to matte photos and paintings, but my art classes have helped me grow as a person. Saying what you learned in an art class isn’t as simple as saying you learned 2 + 2 = 4 in a math class. I learned that art is something I can always come back to, and it’s place where I can express how I feel about a subject. I’ve realized art is a lot more than just putting paint onto canvas, art is personal.

What is your favorite part of the art course you are taking? What are you most proud of?

My favorite part of my art class I’m taking is the free reign I’m allowed to take. If I have an idea of how to do the assigned project, and it’s a little changed from the original project, I can do it.
I’m pretty sure that the question, “What are you most proud of?” is referring to a specific painting, or maybe a concentration of mine. Truthfully though, I’m most proud of the work that my classmates and I did to save our art teacher, Mrs. J. It was hard work and at times became very emotional at the school board meetings. All of us were under 18, so we couldn’t vote at the meetings, so being able to influence people’s decisions and ultimately save her position makes me very proud of what we did.

Did anyone encourage you to take an art course? Who provides the greatest support for the work you now do and how do they support you?

When I started high school taking an art class was all my choice. As I’ve continued taking art classes throughout high school my friends and most of my family have been behind me in my choice. I’m not sure who provides the greatest support, everyone has their own way of showing it. My mother, father, and my brother, Brian, all have shown it through buying me endless art supplies. That’s probably the best way of showing support since I rarely have the money to buy them myself and I can’t turn down a new sketchbook or pencils.

How does your work in the arts support and develop creativity for you?

I find that when I’m making art I become more creative and start making more art and come up with ideas for more art. So I guess my work in the arts makes me want to make more art and become more creative.

If you could change any part of your arts education, what would it be?

I’d really like the arts program at my school to get more recognition. Even though we did hold a contest for yearbook cover, I feel like we are still judged very hard. As a member of one of the AP Art classes at my school it seems like the administration is pushing very hard to have us score higher and higher. Of course, getting high scores on our portfolios is what we aim for, putting us under pressure isn’t going to produce creativity, and certainly not the high scores they are looking for.

What are you plans as far as continuing your study of the arts?

I’m applying to a few schools this year, my top choice is an art school. I’d really love to get in and be able to submerge myself with all the creativity there. If I don’t attend an art school I’m going to keep working on art either outside of school, or perhaps major in something related to it. I’m not really sure what I’d like to do after college, but I’ll probably figure that out as I go along. As far as I can see, I have no plans of stopping my study of the arts anytime soon.

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