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Charlotte student wins four art awards

By Carol Gifford
Correspondent

Ben Evans, a South Mecklenburg High School junior from south Charlotte, won four Gold Keys for his paintings and videos in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Mid-Carolina Regional competition.

Regionally, only about 7 percent of the 2,600 entries are recognized with awards. Evans was in the select few who won four or more top awards. All Gold Key award work is now being judged in New York City where the national winners will be announced March 15.

“At first I was a bit numb,” said Evans, 17, who received the awards at a recent ceremony at McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square. “Scholastics are such a big thing – it’s so exciting and something that we work up to. It still kind of feels surreal.”

Although he has been involved with art his “whole life,” and previously won a Scholastic Gold Key for a sketch in eighth grade, Evans had to wait two more years to again win the top award.

It was worth the wait, he said.

He submitted four pieces of art – two oil paintings and two videos – and received the top prize for each.

Evans estimated he spent about 1,500 hours creating the art, some begun during the summer.

His artwork included: “Bureaucracy of Creation and Amireca,”, oil paintings, and two five-minute videos: “The American” and “Summertime Bloodbath.”

Evans describes his work as “personal narratives and narratives on society, dealing with the exploration of self.”

His work is on display, along with the other Gold Key winners, at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St., through the end of month. The show is open daily from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Evans takes two art classes a week at school, an AP Art History class and a ceramics class, and then attends open art studio after school three times a week.

“I want to do art, to keep pushing the boundaries of art in myself,” said Evans, who plans to attend college and major in art. “Creating is so huge for me, and the artwork I submitted to the contest is a conceptualization of how my life is changing.”

Evans credits his art teachers, Ellen Estes at South Meck and G. Lee Baumgardner, executive director at Pineville’s Civic and Cultural Arts Center of Pineville (CCAC), for his inspiration.

“Ms. Estes was very open-minded and encouraging about what I should do with my films,” said Evans, whose films are somewhat autobiographical. “I never had an art teacher so open-minded and supportive as she was.”

Evans’ future plans include spending more time creating art through his senior year of high school, and then continuing in art at the college level. He hopes to attend film school at New York University.

“There’s always going to be art in my life,” said Evans. “I don’t see myself sitting in a cubicle. I see myself creating in my life.”

Carol Gifford is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Carol? Email her at bloomgiff@comcast.net.
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