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Artscape: North Shore students honored in N.O. art contests

When she completed two class assignments, Lakeshore High School Junior Zoe Treitler didn’t expect they would propel her to finalist spots in two prominent New Orleans art contests: the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts Art Contest and the Rau for Art Foundation’s Scholarship Competition.

“It’s pretty crazy that I got into the finals for both competitions,” she said of the 2019 contests, both of which recently held luncheons to honor the finalists and award scholarship funds.

Two other north shore students also were honored. Abby Hayes, a junior at Saint Scholastica Academy, was among the 15 junior and senior finalists from across the state in the Rodrigue Art Contest. Jack Menard, a senior at Fontainebleau High School, was among Rau for Art’s 10 finalists for his cut-paper and watercolor piece, “Let Your Worries Be Mild.”

It was inspired by Bomboland, an illustration studio based in Italy. “I enjoyed how neat and detailed their work was, so I wanted to try it,” said Menard, who entered the school system’s Talented Art program in 8th grade. “My main medium is watercolor but for the sake of trying something new, I wanted to try cut paper.”

M.S. Rau Antiques founded Rau for Art in 2012 to give back to the community via college scholarships for 10th to 12th grade high-school visual arts students and to help provide funding to art teachers in New Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles and St. Tammany parishes.

This year, Kathy Nguyen of Riverdale High School took 1st place and its $7,500 scholarship prize, along with an option to study in Italy and $500 to the school’s art department. Skylar Fazende of Fisher High School got 2nd place and a $3,000 scholarship, and Helen Hoang of Riverdale High School got 3rd place and $1,500.

The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts Art Contest was established by the noted Louisiana artist to help build art students’ confidence. This year marks its 10th anniversary, and GRFA received more than 740 submissions from high school juniors and seniors across Louisiana, the highest number of contest submissions to date. The 15 finalists received a total of $45,000 in scholarship funds.

Hayes admits to being, “really proud of myself” for her second place recognition amongst the five junior finalists recognized by the Rodrigue Foundation. The award came with a $1,000 scholarship.

Her acrylic painting, entitled “Planetary Portraits”, was inspired by ancient Greek and Roman mythology and “how they looked at the sky as a storyteller,” she said. “I felt connected with that because I see myself, as an artist, as a storyteller. I portrayed our planets as the Roman gods.”

Hayes was home-schooled until this school year, something that gave her time to create art. “At 4 years old — my earliest memory of art — I would look at the pictures in a lot of my mom’s (art) books. I would look at them for hours, ... just flipping through all the pictures on how to draw people and human proportions and color,” she said.

“Art was really something special because I found myself lost in it, and it wasn’t like anything else. With other things I would get easily distracted, but I could do art for hours,” Hayes added.

Treitler received third place in the Rodrigue Foundation contest, which came with $750 in scholarship funds, for her acrylic painting depicting a rabbit and a moon. It was inspired by the East Asian folklore about how markings on the moon that look like a rabbit came to be.

“I really liked the theme this year. Just thinking about the cosmos just sparked my inspiration,” she said. “I’ve always loved drawing animals, and it was the first thing that popped into my head.”

But Treitler is particularly proud of the Prismacolor pencil piece — entitled “When Pigs Fly” — she created for the Rau for Art competition. “It’s one of my favorite ones. It really shows the progression of my use of Prismacolor,” she said.

Rau for Art’s theme this year asked students to create a piece of artwork that would motivate or inspire others, according to Rebecca Rau, the foundation’s executive director.

“A lot of past themes have been focused on things you love about your hometown or cuisine or envisioning the future for New Orleans. This year we chose a theme called ‘Create to Motivate,’ in which the students were invited to design some kind of poster to either inspire themselves or their peers or change the world. It felt like an appropriate moment in that high schoolers around the world are making an impact and speaking loudly about issues that they care about,” Rau said.

To inspire others, Treitler used the adynaton about pigs in a different way. “It’s usually meant in a way like ‘sure that will never happen’, but I turned it around,” she said of the piece where a pig is flying with the help of balloons. “Pigs can’t sprout wings and fly, but they can have balloons. The general idea is you basically can do anything when you put your mind to it and come up with a solution.”

Admitted into the Talented Art program in 3rd grade at Woodlake Elementary, Treitler has “had a long time to brush up on my skills,” she said. “My first inspiration was my dad, Scott, who is talented in art. He taught me how to draw some things.”

She dreams of attending the Savannah College of Art & Design and majoring in animation. “A lot of my inspiration comes from animators on YouTube. I have all these ideas for animation, but I never really have had time to do it.”

For more information on the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts Art Contest, visit For more information on the Rau for Art Foundation,

Sarah Bonnette is a freelance writer on Louisiana arts and culture. She may be contacted at



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