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Winning Entries in Youth Art Expo

Face the Facts: Reduce Teen Pregnancy, a county wide coalition, hosted a Youth Art Expo at the Whitney Center for the Arts. The expo opened Friday May 6, and closed May 30. Art was submitted by local youth from Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, Lee Middle and High School, Wahconah High School, Miss Halls School, Taconic High School, and Monument Mountain High School.

The expo’s theme was, “9 months from now, the only thing I am expecting is to be more…”. Participating youth were asked to think about where they see themselves in nine months, and create an art piece which reflects that. Every participant submitted a piece that represented their hopes and dreams for the future.

Expo attendees were encouraged to vote for their favorite piece of art.  In total, 136 votes were received for the 15 works on display. The winning entry from Lucy McMahon from Lenox Memorial Middle and High School captured 27 of those votes.  

Lucy’s vision, as depicted by her winning entry is, "In nine months, I hope to confront the things that are holding me back. Before I took the picture, I already had an idea of where I wanted to be in nine months. I had a short list of the ‘new me’, who was bold and daring and unafraid of anything. After I took this picture, along with many others, this one spoke to me the most because of the contrast of light and shadow. The subject of the photograph is staring into a dark abyss, unsure of what it contains but facing it all the same. Though she may be vulnerable (as symbolized by her bare back) she is standing up to what scares her, and that is where I hope to be in nine months - facing my fears."   Upon being notified that she was the winner, Lucy said, "I am beyond ecstatic that my little photo was liked by so many people. Considering how much talent was present at the expo, I am truly honored that my depiction of facing fears was chosen and hope that it not only continues to inspire me, but also inspires others as well.”

Alexsandra Tsangarides from Wahconah High School was the runner-up with 19 votes.  When asked how her entry reflected her hopes and dreams for the future, she responded, "I see myself dreaming of warm weather in nine months. Living in the Berkshires, we are known to have rough winters that seem to last forever. Nine months from now is January; chilly weather, snow covered grounds, and cloaks of ice draping over anything thinkable.  My photograph was taken on a hot beach of North Carolina. I do in fact, find myself longing for the hot kisses from the sun and long days outside while I am inside huddling by the fire. This photograph brings me to a warm place, not specifically North Carolina, but anywhere nice and lively. The colors drag you into the picture and the clouds look like they will start moving any minute. This photograph looks like it could come to life. It gives me a joy that I cannot explain in words, excitement that makes my heart race. In nine months, I will surely be 'dying' for summer to come after looking back at this photo!"

The winner of the Youth Art Expo was presented with a $100 Visa gift card; the runner-up received a month of free professional painting classes with renown local artist, Michelle Iglesias, at her studio on North Street, Pittsfield.

Face the Facts: Reduce Teen Pregnancy held this event to honor the 15th Annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which was launched by The National Campaign to Reduce Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The National Day is intended to help teens understand the factors that can lead to an unplanned pregnancy, and to take proactive steps in their reproductive health.

Since the coalition began its work in 2009, the Berkshire County teen birth rate has fallen by 54.4%. The coalition aims to reduce the rate by another 50% by 2020. In order to accomplish this goal, it is important to engage youth in events like the Youth Art Expo. The work of the coalition is sponsored in part by the Women’s Fund of Western MA.