SAGINAW, MI – A recent Saginaw High School graduate won a gold medal in visual arts at a national NAACP competition with her collage art of the Court Street Bridge from Saginaw.
NeAsia Hopkins, 17, attended both Saginaw High and Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy before graduating this spring. Her article, “Justice> Charity,” won her $ 2,000 and a computer, said John Pugh, a longtime community mentor who worked with her for three years.
The NAACP Afro-University, Culture, Technology and Science Olympics, or ACT-SO, allows young people to compete in 32 fields, including STEM, art and more. Hopkins showcased her art on Wednesday July 7 at the national competition, held remotely this year, and discovered her victory in a virtual ceremony on Sunday July 11, she said.
Hopkins used various materials to represent the view under the bridge, a location she chose to be recognizable to everyone in the area, she said. She created the sky using wrapping tape to transfer online maps of the Saginaw, Flint, and Detroit areas onto blue paper. Hopkins’ work is a commentary on exterior gentrification that ignores the living conditions of the inhabitants of these cities, using the bridge as a symbolic division between those with opportunities and those stuck in the cycle of poverty, according to the declaration of his artist.
“We shouldn’t be content with the fact that others are constantly struggling when it doesn’t have to be this way”, Hopkins wrote. “The title ‘Justice> Charity’ refers to the fact that we offer charity as a response to economic injustice rather than promoting long-term social and political change. “
Hopkins has already won three gold medals for her art in regional ACT-SO competitions, and won gold in a national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition earlier this year, she said. She also entered the piece in the Hemlock Semiconductor Calendar Contest * and is waiting to hear the results.
Hopkins has entered her art in competitions since Grade 9, her intensity recently intensified as she became more passionate about her community and the “why” behind her art, she said. When she started doing more pieces that are important to her and to society, she said, she started to gain more recognition.
“It’s quite unreal”Hopkins said. “It gives me a lot of hope and optimism for my future, I believe I will be successful. It’s just nice to know that I have so much support both locally and nationally.
Pugh described Hopkins’ art as dynamic and articulate, both in his technique and his ability to express the message behind his work. ACT-SO is very competitive – you can perform well and not even win a bronze medal, Pugh said. It is “extra” proud of Hopkins for his accomplishment.
“Last year she really got attached”, Pugh said. “I’m proud of her and I know she will be successful throughout her college program.
Hopkins plans to attend the College for Creative Studies in Detroit with the goal of becoming a public entertainer or performer. Her dream is to bring art to the public in Detroit and help make art accessible to everyone, regardless of their means, she said.
“I want to be known in Saginaw, I want to be able to put the city on the map”Hopkins said. “I want to be able to make people proud. “
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