Art Students Win More Than Ever at Georgia National Fair


Senior Naomi Jones showing her award winning piece at the very top! Credit: Marjorie Hsu

Marjorie Hsu, Co-editor in Chief

The Centennial Art Department has won more awards this year at the Georgia National Fair than ever before. Usually we win between eight to 15 awards, but this year it’s at 20. Most of the winning works will be in the glass cases in front of the school, where you can see all the effort people put into making this competition a success.  

Most of the winning pieces placed with honorable mentions, but students who scored higher were: Alexander Sorenson in second place for color photo, Vivian Cannella in third place for charcoal drawing, and Naomi Jones in third place for computer art. Art teacher John Riggins said, “We never know what the judges want,” so students don’t adhere to a prompt or theme for the show and submit their best works. 

A close up of Naomi’s piece. Credit: Marjorie Hsu

The school has been participating in this event for around 20 years now, and in between matting, sending, and receiving the results go from late September to early November Riggins explained that students will usually submit photos, but there are also drawings. Students’ works are separated into a freshman and sophomore division and then a junior and senior one. Afterwards, the pieces are categorized in sections like black, color, and altered photo, or drawing. 

This year was a wonderful surprise because as Riggins opened the box it was like “Hey! This one has a ribbon! Wait a minute, this had a ribbon! So, half the box had ribbons this year, which was awesome,” he said.

Junior Clancy Weaver holding up one of her award winning pieces from last year’s GA National Fair. Credit: Marjorie Hsu

It can take a bit to produce the art by the deadline depending on what kind of art the student intends to turn in. If it’s a photo, they go to the Learning Commons at an available time for them to be able to print out their pictures. If it’s an altered photo then a student will usually spend a while manipulating the work in Photoshop. For traditional drawings, it’s a whole process of sketching, planning and then working with a media such as: paint, ink, charcoal, and more. 

A lot of the work that goes behind in ensuring the pieces are ready to be sent is formatting and listing them. The art has to be matted to a certain size—which means a black border added—and foam board has to be added to the back. The pieces are also listed on the online submission where the student give each artwork a name and the medium. Riggins said, “It costs the art department money to send off these pieces. The matt board and the foam board for four pieces runs about $30. And we often have 40 to 50 pieces entered, so it starts to add up after a while.”

When all the works are sent and displayed down in Perry, Georgia (where the fair takes place), “the students get graded. And, for instance, Alex who took second place had a 99 score. So, whoever had a 100 got first place. Honorable mention is very good. It’s technically fourth place,” Riggins added. Students don’t know their results until the art is shipped back. Sometimes, there’s little graded papers with their grade and small commentary. In addition, if the student place, their work has a ribbon and they receive a cash prize. 

Riggins said that another challenge is “each year is different. Students wait and procrastinate until the last moment which drives me absolutely insane,” he added. 

Despite some difficulties, Riggins said, “I do it because it helps students and it’s a lot of work on me to get their pieces matted, but they’ve competed. And, part of the competition is what they have to do for lettering into visual arts and also for the diploma seal.” 

“Just competing is important. If you take the time to do it, it’s showing that you have an interest in the arts, whether or not you place,” Riggins said.