Thompson student uses inspirational piece to win Realizing the Dream contest

Published 12:46 pm Sunday, April 3, 2022

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By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Thompson High School’s Serenity Thomas believes that art is a beautiful form of expression.

It is through this form that Thomas created a piece of art that won in the Realizing the Dream Art and Essay contest. The event is made possible through the coordinated efforts of Stillman College, Shelton State Community College, the University of Alabama and the Tuscaloosa SCLC.

“When I found out that I had won in the competition, it had me in shock and also feeling super proud,” Thomas said. “The inspiration behind my piece that I submitted was in 2020 as a whole, there were a lot of people of color fighting to make sure they were seen. My piece is my way of telling all black people in America that I see you, I see your struggle, your fight, and how tired you’re becoming of fighting for what is your right.”

Thompson High School art teacher Michelle McGraw said Thomas is currently working on her AP Art Portfolio, which she used one of her initial pieces from that portfolio for the contest.

“The piece she submitted intertwines a tree with faces of black men and women and flags from across the world,” McGraw said. “They told us at the awards ceremony that there were over 40 applicants in the art category.”

McGraw said winners of the competition received a new laptop and up to $1,000 in reimbursement to the school for supplies.

The Realizing the Dream Committee sponsored an essay and art contest for grades 6-12 around its 2022 theme: Realizing the Dream Through Kindness and Respect for Others.

Submission requirements for the competition included composing a 500-word essay or creating a work of art, both of which reflected the 2022 theme.

Students competed at either the middle or high school level.

Thomas said an artist she finds inspiring is Harmonia Rosales because she makes more classical black art and her art is beautiful to Thomas.

“I often draw inspiration from black history,” Thomas said. “I study political and social matters that have affected the black community or are affecting them so that the art can relate. The more the art relates, the more impact it has on the viewer and the more it can connect. Black people in general are beautiful. This form of expression mixed with people who are full of expression, strength and stories that need to be told is the reason I do art. I can give some a way to tell their story or relate it and help them feel peace.”

McGraw said Thomas and her art are impressive because of Thomas’ work ethic.

“She is so incredibly focused on her art,” McGraw said. “It is not unusual for her to be working on one piece, while developing ideas for several more. She is passionate about her art and a joy to have in the art studio.”

McGraw said she made it a personal goal this year to communicate many opportunities for her students’ artwork to be displayed publicly through art shows and contests.

“Serenity has taken advantage of those opportunities and this is just one of the ways it is paying off for her,” McGraw said.