Avondale Middle School Student wins Sooper Yooper Art Contest

Avondale Middle School student’s art, inspired by love of nature, wins recognition by Wege Foundation

Avondale Middle School eighth-grader Avani Govindswamy has been recognized by the Wege Foundation for her submission of an original work of art in a competition inspired by the book, Sooper Yooper: Environmental Defender by Mark Heckman and Mark Newman. The annual contest, “Sooper Yooper” is in its sixth year and draws submissions from students, 5-18 years of age, from around the State of Michigan.

Jon Carfagno, Director of Learning and Audience Engagement at the Grand Rapids Art Museum which cosponsors the event and displays the student artwork, remarked about the high ability of the artists who submitted works during this year’s contest. “Judging the competition this year was as difficult as it’s ever been,” he said. “After six years, we continue to be amazed by the quality and range of art that is submitted.” The judges are limited to selecting a total of 16 artists in each age group to receive a certificate and a check for $100. In addition, the students are honored during a special celebration at the museum and their work is projected onto a large screen as they are presented with their award.

Avani Govindswamy stands in front of a slide of her artwork during the Sooper Yooper Art Competition awards presentation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Avani Govindswamy stands in front of a slide of her artwork during the Sooper Yooper Art Competition awards presentation at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Avani enjoyed the celebration and recognition but for her the experience was a chance to use her painting and drawing skills to express her thoughts about pollution and its effects on our oceans, lakes and waterways. “I like all kinds of sea creatures and I know that water pollution can damage their habitats which could lead to extinction of certain species,” she explained, “I wanted my painting to show people that pollution is dangerous for all of the creatures that live in our lakes and oceans.” She was happy to be part of this particular art competition since it combined her advocacy for nature and her love of art.

The daughter of Prabha and Kiran Govindswamy of Rochester Hills, Avani also enjoys reading and is active in the school’s theater club and Future Problem Solvers group. She intends to continue in art when she advance to Avondale High School next fall and is already planning to take 2D Design when she gets to ninth-grade.

About the book that inspired the competition

Sooper Yooper: Environmental Defender was written to educate and entertain young readers about the importance of protecting our natural resources. The hero of the story, Billy Cooper, is an environmental superhero who does everything in his power to safeguard the Great Lakes from his headquarters in Michigan ‘s Upper Peninsula. The art contest was designed as a way to engage children in thinking about earth-related issues. The artwork must be related to the natural world or have an ecological theme. Entries are also judged on originality and creativity.

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