Six students advance to VASE state competition


photo by Yasmin Haq

Art that advances to regionals is placed on the gallery floor where students and teachers can go to look at pieces. The judges closed the gallery that afternoon so they could determine who advances to state. “It was kind of nerve-wracking, but at the same time it was really fun,” Junior Claire Song said. “I got to see everyone’s art and everything was so good. Everyone was so talented. So it was just a fun experience going with all the talented people from Hebron and seeing all the talent from our district.”

All 36 art students competing in the Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) district competition on Feb. 22 advanced to regionals and six students advanced to state. 

“It’s really exciting that all of our kids made it to regionals, and all of our kids made fours,” art teacher Taylar Piers said. “That was a first for me as a teacher. We wish we had some more going to state, but I always tell my kids before the event, ‘Hey, this is really just a great opportunity for you.’”

VASE district and regionals happen on the same day; students compete in district by interviewing about their piece. If students receive a rating of four (the highest rating) on their piece, they advance to regionals and are put on the gallery floor for regional judging. Judges then pick their favorite pieces by placing sticky notes on them, and whichever pieces receive the most notes advance. 

“VASE is just one of those things where it can change each year,” Piers said. “Some years you have judges that are really looking for portraits, [and] some years you have judges that are really looking for creativity. You never really know until you get to state and you see who all the winners are then you can say, ‘Oh, OK, this is what they’re looking for.’”

Piers said there were a lot more multimedia pieces present this year. 

photo by Yasmin Haq
Seniors John Pham, El Champion, Lauren Santaella and junior Claire Song admire a piece on the gallery floor. The floor was split into different divisions, 1-4, based on the number of art credits a student has.

“VASE is definitely the type of art competition where they’re looking at [students] skills as artists,” Piers said. “They’re looking to see that [students] know how to render something realistically or they’re looking to see that [they] know how to come up with an idea that’s [their] own. But this year, I definitely did see quite a bit of mixed media pieces, which is encouraging because, in the past, it’s been pretty traditional as far as the mediums”

This year is junior Claire Song’s third time making it to state. She said her VASE pieces have focused on social issues such as stereotypes and peer pressure. This year her piece, titled “Ready for all to mean all,” is about the inclusivity of women and people of color. 

“It’s honestly kind of hard to believe,” Song said. “I’m still not fathoming it. I’m really excited to go, it’s just that I’m kind of disappointed that less people from Hebron were picked this year because I feel like there was so much talent and more people deserved it, so it’ll be kind of sad going without people I’m close with. But I’m excited for the opportunity to maybe [get a gold] seal again.” 

State will be April 24-25 at San Marcos High School. Whether students win a gold seal, the highest award in VASE, or not will be determined before the competition.  

“Overall, our kids did really great,” Piers said. “[They] worked really incredibly hard on [their] pieces. And when it came down to the judging and the event, [they] just made sure [they] were on [their] a game and had everything ready.”