Local students win calendar art contest


Two Jackson County students have won the statewide annual Indiana Connection Cooperative Calendar of Student Art Contest.

Winning first place were Arabella White of Medora in the kindergarten division and Harley Koons of Seymour in the seventh grade division.

Approximately 1,300 pieces of artwork were entered in this year’s contest. More than 94,000 pieces have been entered since the contest began in 1999.

Artwork was judged on artistic merit, originality, creativity and its suitability for a wall calendar. The art contest is open to any Indiana K-12 student.

“We are proud to be a part of recognizing and showcasing the artistic talents of our youth,” said John Gasstrom, chief executive officer of Indiana Electric Cooperatives.

Each of the numbered grades was given the corresponding month of the year to illustrate for the contest, so seventh-graders would enter a picture for July, the seventh month.

White and Koons’ winning artwork will be included in the 2022 Cooperative Calendar of Student Art, available at the offices of participating Indiana electric cooperatives this fall.

Each of the girls also received an award certificate and a check for $200.

Arabella, 6, the daughter of Kelly and Sarah White, said this was her first time entering the art contest.

Sarah said they learned about the contest in 2019 through the Indiana Connection magazine.

"The children were so excited about the discovery and decided to participate even though the deadline was just a few days away," she said.

Sarah homeschools all five of their children and was homeschooled herself growing up.

She said Arabella was surprised when she found out she had won first place in her category for the art contest.

"They all said my eyes got big and I asked, ‘Really?’" Arabella said. "Then I giggled. I was pretty happy."

For the contest, Arabella used watercolors to paint a birdhouse on the prairie with a pair of goldfinches fluttering and talking. She named her artwork "Dinnertime Chat on the Prairie."

"I wanted my picture to be bright and colorful, and since I really like birds, I decided to follow my brother’s suggestion and paint some," Arabella said.

Her older brother and sisters have been entering the art contest for the past several years, and she was happy she was finally old enough to participate. Arabella’s siblings are Elizabeth, 12, David, 10, Victoria, 9, and Serenity, 3.

For their past contest entries, Elizabeth earned an honor of merit, David received two honorable mentions and Victoria received an award of merit and an honorable mention.

"I like to draw and paint flowers and color animals. My brother’s artwork inspires me," Arabella said. 

When she’s not drawing, Arabella enjoys riding her bike, taking music lessons, having tea parties with her sisters and playing dress-up with her younger sister.

"I love school," Arabella said. "It’s also fun to make cookies with Momma and take a ride with Daddy in his Cummins diesel Dodge truck."

Koons, 13, is the daughter of Kevin and Erin Koons and attends Seymour Middle School.

"It was a very random drawing that I came up with of a cow with two frogs on its head," Koons said. "My favorite animal is a cow, and frogs are a close second."

She used chalk pastels as the medium for her drawing, which she created at The Herbal Alternative, where she takes art classes from Kay Fox.

Koons plans to enter the contest again next year and said she’ll probably put the $200 in her bank account.

She said when she’s not drawing, she babysits her younger sister and likes to play golf.

Thirteen additional Hoosier student artists earned an honorable mention award and $75, including 11-year-old SaRai Fontanez of Seymour for the fifth grade category.

She is the daughter of David and Rachel Fontanez.

"My drawing was of a puppy that got in the mud and his name is Max, and he’s trying to get his ball," SaRai said. "My friend has a dog that’s named Max, so that’s where I got his name."

SaRai said she has a puppy at home named Smudge, but he doesn’t look like the one in her painting.

She chose acrylic paints for her artwork, and originally, she hadn’t planned for Max to be muddy in the picture.

"The mud was kind of a mistake, but as artists, we have to make our mistakes work, and so SaRai went with it, and it turned out great," Fox said.

She said 13 of her art students entered the contest this year.

"I supplied all of the materials needed for their entries here in the studio, and then I filled out the paperwork and sent them in together," Fox said. "I’m proud of all of my students and their work."

She has been teaching art for more than 25 years and was a member of Southern Indiana Center for the Arts for several years and now has a studio at The Herbal Alternative.

"I teach all ages and all mediums, like oils, acrylic, watercolors, and I also teach drawing and how to draw the human form and more," Fox said.

She is currently offering private and group lessons at The Herbal Alternative, 2015 N. Ewing St., Seymour. To make an appointment or set up a class or activity, contact Fox at 812-216-6309.

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To view the winning artwork from the Indiana Connection Cooperative Calendar of Student Art Contest, visit indianaconnection.org/art-gallery.


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