Central Consolidated School District students submitted pieces of art to the Northern Navajo Nation Fair poster contest. But there could be only one winner and her name is Shayleen Tom from Shiprock High School.
“Normally, I am very shy about sharing my art with people, so to actually win is very shocking and surprising. When I first got the call, I thought it was a scam!” Tom said with a laugh.
Tom’s winning piece was completed in colored pencil and shows a teenage girl with symbolic items surrounding her. She said the inspiration for the drawing came from a desire to create a unique piece of art for the fair.
“I had looked around at what other people were doing and it all looked the same. There were a lot of pictures of Shiprock and landscapes but I wanted to do something different,” Tom said.
Tom explains, “The girl is actually a teenager and I wanted to portray how important our culture and our heritage is to teenagers because it seems like we don’t know a lot about it.”
The girl sits under Ye’ii, which Tom said portrays both protection and strength, and sits in a basket that represents support and being hòzhò. The white flowers symbolize the life cycle and healthy living is represented by the vegetables and the food in the picture.
The Northern Navajo Nation Fair Board also hopes to publish a calendar of the best entries in the poster contest. All 12 months will be represented by art created by Central Consolidated School District.
“Our students are incredibly talented and we are so proud to see their work displayed so prominently for the fair,” Dr. Colleen W. Bowman, superintendent of CCSD, said. “Art is a way for our students to learn and express themselves both academically and culturally and they continue to impress their families, friends and the entire community with their gifts.”
Tom gave much credit to her art teacher at Shiprock High School, Sandra Garnanez, saying she was “inspirational and influential in strengthening my artistic skills so I could take a step to the next level and consider other opportunities.”