Art students earn top award

Recently honored by the Garland ISD Board of Trustees, two district high schoolers have received the highest recognition available for art students in Texas. Rowlett High School’s Jolene Mollenkamp and Erin Vejjajiva both earned Gold Seals at the Texas Art Education Association’s state Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE).

Mollenkamp and Vejjajiva’s journey began among more than 30,000 works of art at regional competition in March.

“Events are scheduled based on the 20 Texas Education Agency Service Center regions,” explained Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator David Sanders. “Region 10 has such a large participation that it must hold three separate events, and Region 10 East is hosted by Garland ISD.”

This year’s Region 10 East competition featured 1,800 pieces from 17 different school districts. In all, a total of 35,000 were submitted across the 20 regions. Approximately 2,000 advanced to state, with 46 percent of those qualifiers coming from GISD. And, Mollenkamp and Vejjajiva belong to an elite group of just 150 to earn a coveted Gold Seal.

“This is my second year to advance to state VASE and my first Gold Seal,” said Mollenkamp. “My piece was titled Russian Nesting Dolls Coming to Life. It was an oil on Masonite covered with resin.”

“I am here as an exchange student,” added Vejjajiva. “Next year, I will return home to Thailand. My piece is a self-portrait. I drew it with charcoal and then used spray paint.”

Trustees honored the duo with Evidence of Excellence awards June 26.