Young Local Authors And Artists Honored At Sister Cities Art Show At Harrison School Of The Arts
by James Coulter
A Moldavian lady exhausts herself so much at her day job yet earns so little to support her and her family. A Chinese mother worries about giving birth to another child due to concerns about overpopulation. A Jamaican woman finds herself lonely, lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. All three women come from three different countries from three different corners of the world, and yet while they will never meet each other, their struggles as women unite them.
We may never know the struggles of other people in other countries, but if we keep our minds and hearts open to the problems in other countries, we can learn to better empathize with our fellow human beings. The more we learn about each other and the things that unite rather than divide us, the more humanity as whole can be mended, like a tattered doll being mended with a needle and thread.
This message of global unity, as portrayed within these images, were showcased through the visuals and the words of both the winning young artist and author within the Lakeland Sister Cities International Young Artist And Authors Showcase on Monday evening.
Hosted within the student gallery at the Harrison School of the Arts in Lakeland, this showcase displays the artwork and poetry of nearly a hundred students from three local schools, which includes the host school, as well as Rochelle School of the Arts and Lawton Chiles Middle School.
This year’s theme was “global healing”, with the artwork and poetry reflecting that theme. Of the students participating within this year’s showcase, five young artists were honored with awards, along with three young authors.
Rachel Amerson, an eleventh grader from Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, was honored as the first place winner among the young artists. Her art piece portrays the earth as a hand mending with needle and thread a doll created from the flags of the world, with the hand sewing a heart upon the doll.
Amerson was quite shocked to learn that she had won first place at this year’s showcase, even though she knows that her own art piece is quite exceptional, she said.
“I didn’t really expect to win first place,” she said. “If I won anything, I would have thought it would have been second or third, and that is if I was lucky because that’s only because I believe there are other people that executed the idea better.”
Lucy Sanorbrin, an eighth grader from Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, won first place among the young writers for her poem, “Margins of Life.” Her poem focused on the struggles of three different women from three different countries and how their struggle under systemic sexism unites them despite their distance from each other.
“Welcome to our century, a place where there is no ‘ Happily Ever After'”, she wrote. “Society where people are overlooked, forming a union of the unknown; unwanted bound together by resilience living in the margins of life—the lost women of the world.”
Sanorbrin wanted to dedicate her poem to a common problem within the world. Through her research, she discovered that many women in many different countries struggle with problems related to sexism.
Ever since she joined her school’s creative writing program, she has been sharpening her writing skills to raise awareness of such problems. She hopes to continue doing so and inspiring others within her writing in the future.
“I hope to continue writing inspiring things to encourage others to do the same,” she said. “I think the people around me every day inspire me. It is about community and talking with others.”
This annual showcase is hosted every year through a partnership between Harrison School of the Arts and Lakeland Sister Cities International. Founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sister Cities International is a non-profit citizen diplomacy network that seeks to strengthen the relationships of people in communities across the world, explained Jim Verplanck, president of Lakeland Sister Cities.
“He [Eisenhower] decided that the way wars went, that this country needed a person-to-person relationship with people in other countries,” he said.
Lakeland Sister Cities was founded in 1990. Over the past 15 years, it has been sponsoring events such as this throughout the community. Harrison School of the Arts hosts five to six exhibits such as this per year, though this event proves to be one of their proudest, since it helps promotes a cause that he and his school whole-heartedly supports, he said.
“I believe in their mission and what they believe in,” he said.
Being able to host the artwork of his students within their museum-quality art gallery is nothing short of inspiring to him, as is being able to oversee their education through his school, he said.
“It is a great opportunity that I have because these young people, the things they do inspire me everyday,” he said. “I tell them all the time that I am a better administrator, a better person because I am around them.”
The Sister Cities Young Artist And Author Showcase will be on display within the student gallery at Harrison School of the Arts, located at 750 Hollingsworth Rd, Lakeland, FL 33801. The gallery is open to the public during regular school hours Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit the school website at: https://www.harrisonarts.com/
Young Artist Winners
1st Place: Rachel Amerson, Grade 11, Lawton Chiles
2nd Place: Shannon Nichols, Grade 12, Harrison
3rd Place: Renier Crespo, Grade 10, Harrison
Honorary Mention: Kaylee Mitchell, Grade 9, Harrison
Honorary Mention: Taylor Wood, Grade 10, Harrison
1st Place: Lucy Sansabran, Grade 8, Lawton Chiles
2nd Place: Susannah Braswell, Lawton Chiles
3rd Place: R’keria Davis, Grade 12, Harrison