Looking at the caliber of artwork submitted for the 2017 Never Forget Tribute Youth Art Exhibition & Contest at Lohman Funeral Home in Ormond Beach, it is clear how much art provides a way to express emotions, history and healing.
Although 911 ceremonies have passed, local youth and their participating schools were recognized at Lohman Sept. 28. The program featured more than 100 works of art created by area middle and high school students to honor first responders, civilians and military heroes of Sept. 11, 2001.
The art really stood out, especially since some of the artists weren't even born when 9/11 occurred.
Emily Aldin of Mainland High School won Best in Show for high schools. She also garnered the People’s Choice high school award.
“I didn’t really have my dad around when I was younger, so when I was little and he was away he would give me these letters and they would have these drawings on them,” Emily said. “When I saw those drawings, it meant so much to me. I wanted to be able to have that kind of impact on things I drew in the future. There are only so many things you can say with words, but with a picture, it’s worth a thousand words.”
Lilly Cobb of Calvary Christian Academy won the high school award for Best Theme.
Savannah Carson of Riverbend Academy won third place for high school Best Theme.
“I like being able to express myself through art,” Savannah said. “I am not a talkative person. This is a way I get to be able to express different things and it was just nice to be able to go back and see what people saw. (Art) is something that helps me think. Most of us didn’t get to witness it (911), so it gives us another perspective on it.”
Jose Rene Silva of Basilica School of St. Paul won Best Theme for middle schools.
Jose said he likes art because “you express what is inside of you, show it out.”
Regarding the 9/11 theme, he said, “It’s cool how the firefighters worked together to save people.”
His sibling Jose Andres Silva also a Basilica student, won Best in Show for middle schools.
Rebekah Davis of Riverbend Academy won second place for middle school Best Theme.
“I like how different people portray different things and how people mix things together,” Rebekah said. “I think it was nice for us to do this and be a part of it. Our teachers taught us about 9/11. We got to say in our art what happened in 9/11.”
James Wallace of Boy Scout Troop 65 took home the Mayor’s Choice award.
Monarch Academy also participated. Contest winners all received cash awards. The school with the most participation was Basilica School of St. Paul.
Sasha Davis, an art instructor at Riverbend, said, “My students were very compassionate (doing this assignment). It was very therapeutic. It helped them have a connection with those people (who died). It brought about a lot of unity and it helped the students to think about others like how they could serve the community by producing artwork that remembered these people who gave their lives to help others during this time.
“For me art is therapeutic in that it help you move beyond your circumstance and you are able to focus on the beauty of what’s around you,” Ms. Davis added. “Art is a great way to make an emotional connection with others.”
Ektemel Francis, an art teacher Basilica School, said, “It (9/11) was a very sad day. They (students) were (especially) interested when I told them about the ‘let’s roll’ story. That is why most of the artwork features ‘let’s roll’. It is very emotional.”
“Let's roll” were the last words of Todd Beamer, a passenger on the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11, as passengers attacked the hijackers.
“The imagination showed on the artwork,” Ms. Francis said. “I was so proud of all of them. Each one of them are different.”
To show support and to thank local first responders, a banner was available for community members to sign. Each guest received a special 9/11 Memorial lapel pin.