Karah Giesecke: one of three 8th graders at Berkeley’s Willard Middle School to be selected as a semi-finalist at the Dream @50 Art Contest

By Catherine Ference

Three of Willard Middle School’s 8th grade students — Karah Giesecke, Desiree Minkler and Sydney Tong — along with their families and Willard’s art teacher, Nancy Funk, celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday this week by attending a very special ceremony at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Karah, Desiree and Sydney were all semi-finalists in The Dream@50 Art Contest, an award program that covers 10 cities and three school levels: elementary, middle and high. For the contest, students were invited to create artwork inspired by a word or phrase from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Their artwork was judged on originality in form and content as well as the artistic merit, including use of color and visual impact. 

Sydney Tong with her artwork which made the semi-finals in a national competition

The Dream@50 website states, “The aim of The Dream@50 Art Contest is to clarify the relevance of history for our young people, to demonstrate the vital importance of the arts in education and daily life, and to build stronger communities based on mutual understanding and respect.”

The contest’s judging panel includes Barry Gaither, Director of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Boston, Edward Saywell, Chair of Contemporary Art at Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Sebastian Smee, Pulitzer-prize winning arts critic at the Boston Globe.

The Awards Ceremony featured Nikki Thomas from radio station KBLX, local hip-hop artist El Jay and the Honorable Teresa Cox who spoke, rapped and inspired the audience to carry on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

After the ceremony, the artists, their friends and their families were invited to a reception in the San Francisco Mint building where the artwork of each semi-finalist was on display. The winners will be announced online and at an award ceremonies in February 2013.

Watch a short video and see some of the art from past years of The Dream@50 contest at the initiative’s website.

Desiree Minkler with her artwork at the Dream @50 Art Contest

All Berkeley comes together, celebrates hope on MLK Day [01.22.13]

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