March 30, 2023

One of High School West’s most aspiring artists, Ashley Park, has recently received the title of Visual Arts Merit winner in the national YoungArts contest. The national YoungArts contest recognizes 720 talented individuals in the literary, visual, and performing arts. All award winners receive financial/mentorship rewards for any future artistic endeavors and gain access to connection and funding opportunities. With encouragement from her friends, family, and teachers at High School West, Ashley Park was inspired to create a portfolio of nine pieces all within a month. 

The summer of 2021 was a difficult one for Ashley Park. With a limited amount of time to create meaningful artwork, she was working throughout the majority of the summer. While some pieces were reused by other projects in previous art classes, most of the pieces were created within that one-month time limit. When asked what was her inspiration for her work was, she said: “They were inspired by the covid pandemic, and in my opinion, they showcase the darker part of life. My portfolio was full of recurring themes of loss and entrapment/confinement in society”.

The art pieces were based on internal conflicts that both Ashley and her friends faced. By taking personal mementos that her friends experienced, Ashley was able to create purposeful artwork about the different effects quarantine had on high school students. Although COVID-19 is still a current issue, it had a tighter grasp on daily life back in 2020/2021, and Ashley’s artwork displayed the effect of confinement on the average human in 2021. 

Both Mrs. Ievolo and Mrs. Montiglio have significantly impacted Ashley’s high school art career. The two High School West teachers helped her prepare/revise her portfolios. Mrs. Montiglio was the first one to tell Ashley about a NAHS exhibition, and although NAHS was not a long-term goal for Ashley, her award in that will help her gain lifelong connections.

The Park family was also as supportive as possible during the enduring process. Both of Ashley’s parents are artists, and they gave lots of feedback about her work to make it as best as possible. When it comes to her future, Ashley is confident that she wants to pursue art, but another hobby makes its way through, writing. Although she is not as well-known for her writing, Ashley would like to continue writing in college along with art: “Hopefully, if everything works out, I’m thinking of majoring in both art and writing. I’m thinking of screenwriting or other careers that involve both writing and art”. 

After winning the title of Visual Arts merit winner in the YoungArts contest, Ashley Park’s art pieces also got chosen to be shown on a 2022 National Art Honor Society (NAHS) online exhibition. Both of her awards resulted in several exhibition opportunities, and the YoungArts award gave her a cash prize. Congratulations and good luck to Ashley Park in any future art-related endeavors!