By Victoria Chester, Arts & Science Council
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art at Levine Center for the Arts has something to celebrate: it has recently gained 10 new artists. The artists’ ages, however, may surprise some. Although the artists have already been recognized locally and nationally, they are just starting out. Some are as young as eight years old. They are also as likely to draw as they are to ask the all-important question, “Have you seen Google’s Doodle today?”
In the years since Google became a household name, that question sparks interest to anyone familiar with the company. The company is well known for its “doodles,” the cleverly animated changes to the logo on its homepage. The drawings range in subject matter from a minimalistic tribute the day of Steve Jobs’ death to a working Pac-Man game celebrating the anniversary of the arcade favorite’s creation. Usually, a team of graphic designers and artists create the whimsical doodles. However, on May 18, a doodle of a different nature debuted: “Pirate Times,” drawn by seven-year-old Wisconsin native Dylan Hoffman.
Dylan was the national winner of 2012’s Doodle 4 Google, an annual contest that calls for drawings from students in grades K-12. The contest is based on a prompt that calls for imagination and creativity, like this year’s “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…” Each student designs his or her own logo. 250 state finalists are selected and a panel of judges selects the top doodles from each state. The public is invited to vote over eight days and then the winner is announced.
Part of the program’s massive popularity may be attributed to its guest judges. This year’s guest panel boasted celebrities like Katy Perry and Jordin Sparks, but it also featured artists like Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, creator of the hilariously offbeat Disney Channel show Phineas and Ferb, and Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, the duo responsible for the popular Spiderwick Chronicles book series. As a company famous for its ingenuity and innovation, Google was careful to select judges that reflect the same principles.
The Bechtler is no stranger to such ingenuity and innovation. Although this is the fifth year of the contest, it is the first time that the doodles of the finalists and winners will be available in the artists’ home states. Pam Davis, director of communications and marketing at the Bechtler Museum, says that they have been “very honored” by Google’s offer. Google wanted the doodles to be accessible to everyone, so they hang in the café area of the museum, which is open to the public free of charge. The doodles will hang in the museum until September 30, 2012.
“That’s the beauty of this,” Davis adds. “I think a lot of people enjoy seeing something connected to Google in Charlotte. It’s great for the city.”
The artists’ work is a testament to both their youth and talent. The state finalists from Charlotte have crafted unique doodles that showcase their personal styles. Fourteen-year-old Charlotte U. drew “Ancient Egypt,” a mysterious logo made mostly out of Egyptian symbols, featuring the eye and the god Anubis. The sharp, clean lines are reminiscent of hieroglyphics, and it is clear that Charlotte put a lot of thought into her entry. Jacob Y., 10 years old, focused on a more recent time period with “A Blast Back to 1969,” paying homage to the moon landing. The rocket declares “USA,” but Jacob’s sparing use of the colors red, white, and blue marks the picture as a celebration of an international triumph as well as a national one. Other state finalists include Christian S., 11, from Fayetteville and Angel R., 17, from Angier.
Runner-up Olivia P., 13, chose to illustrate a comical doodle with “The Dinosaur Times.” Her dinosaurs, depicted as wide-eyed cartoonish figures, hold up signs that proclaim “RAR” and “The meteor is coming!” Other runners-up include Nicole J., 17, from Goldsboro, Katie O., 16, from Greenville, Robert C., 16, from Cary and Abby L., 11, from Smithfield.
Lauren Jackson, 8, has a special mention as the state finalist. “The Old West” includes wagon wheels that serve as the “O”s, a cactus that forms the “L,” and a clever “E” hidden in the setting sun. Her badge-wearing sheriff stands proudly in a desert and captures the image of a rougher, tougher time. As a state finalist, Lauren received a Wacom design tablet, a t-shirt with her doodle printed on it and a trip to New York for the final event on May 17. Of course, she also has the honor of having her drawing displayed in the museum. Although she lives in Ashokie, she has already made a special trip to the Bechtler to see her work.
Davis says the staff hopes by having the doodles there, it will inspire children to create their own art and enjoy artwork on whatever level that speaks to them.
See the local winners’ artwork here:
Lauren J. – Ahoskie, NC – Age 8 – The Old West – State Winner
Jacob Y. – Charlotte, NC – Age 10 – A Blast Back to 1969
Christian S. – Fayetteville, NC – Age 11 – When Dinosaurs were alive
Charlotte U. – Charlotte, NC – Age 14 – Ancient Egypt
Angel R. – Angier, NC – Age 17 -The ancient world of South Korea