Taking Home the Gold Seal

Art competed in VASE, resulting in numerous awards.

Senior Micah Donathan grins at the picture that glows brightly on her screen. Space next to her artwork occupied a gold ribbon with a score of 5 placed above it. 

“It’s so crazy to me to think about it because I didn’t expect that at all,” Donathan said, “but I’m really grateful.”

Art competed in VASE, the Visual Arts Scholastic Event, this year online. On a normal basis, the team would have traveled to Timberview in March to present their chosen pieces to a board of judges and explain the intent behind them and the artistic choices they made. Unfortunately with the new COVID-19 protocols, competitors faced competition safely on a screen instead. 

“My favorite part about VASE is getting to see all of the amazing pieces from other artists in person,” Donathan said, “so I was really bummed about it being completely online this year.”

Back in February, art teachers Shane Skinner and Amy Veselka chose art pieces from numerous students to send in on the VASE website. They submitted eligible art creations through an online form, with only the picture and short explanation of the piece, and then they waited for months. 

Her pieces she entered in VASE are from her AP Drawing portfolio in her Sustained Investigation,” Ms. Veselka said. “Last year she completed the AP Art & Design [during COVID-19 shutdown] and scored a 5 (highest score for College Board) on her portfolio. So, it is no surprise that she was my first Gold Seal winner for VASE ever in my 20-year career. Getting a Gold Seal is a big deal.

When the results came through, Donathan exceeded the expectations even she thought she could be capable of, along with the whole art department that partook in VASE who also did well. Legacy participants all were scored with a four or higher, and Donathan received the gold seal, one of the highest honors when competing in Art UIL. In response to the most distinguished award given by VASE, her creation ‘Candlestick’ will be displayed in Texas exhibits until November. 

“It’s really cool that people around the state can go see my drawing in person,” Donathan said, “but at the same time I’m not planning on doing anything with art later on in life.”

Despite achieving a noble honor, Donathan stays true to herself and recognizes that though she loves art and is good at it, she doesn’t need to pursue it as a career. She represents a passion for the arts while also achieving a different profession. Donathan contents herself with just having fun creating her art pieces and relishing the accomplishments she’s obtained.  

It is not hard to know why [I’m proud of Micah],” Ms.Veselka said. “She scored a 5 on her AP 2D Art & Design portfolio last year, this year scored a 4 on both of her pieces and both of her pieces advanced to state. She is just naturally gifted in art. I am so proud of her and her accomplishments.”

Even after struggling with the complexion of animation and graphic design at Ben Barber, Donathan had the epiphany that art no longer held the sole focus for the future though she excelled in such a skill. However, she became okay with that truth because art is more to her than just a career, it is her outlet. 

“Art doesn’t have to have like a deep commentary about society behind it to be considered art,” Donathan said. “If you want to make something just for fun, I feel like that itself is a great meaning.”