Three Howard students honored with art award from comptroller

There's the world of the economy and the world of the arts, and three young artists from Howard County recently learned how connected those two worlds actually are.

Rockburn Elementary second-grader Jayden Kelly, Glenwood Middle eighth-grader Sarah Cooper and Howard High senior Kaitlynn Motley have received a Maryland Masters Award from Comptroller Peter Franchot, an award given for displays of "extraordinary artistic skills and a vision for Maryland's future,"Franchot said.

The young artists will have their artwork on display at Franchot's Annapolis office for two months.

The students were all given a proclamation from the state last month in "recognition for receiving a Maryland Masters Award, honoring your outstanding artwork which exemplifies your creativity, passion and eye for detail. The ingenuity and determination you have displayed will continue to lead you to success," Franchot said.

Each of the students spoke briefly about their art at an unveiling Nov. 13 at Rockburn, in Elkridge. Motley's piece was a self-portrait done in acrylic paint, with blue streaks as highlights. Cooper's artwork was a four-panel reduction print of a blue macaw. Kelly's piece, "Talking About Lines" is an image of his face in profile with lines coming out of his mouth to illustrate different emotions.

A common theme throughout the art unveiling was the important roles creativity and the arts play in the business world and the economy.

"Creativity is tied to business and is incredibly important in its own right," said Mark Coates, fine arts coordinator for the Howard County Public School System. "Recognizing student achievement is really important for students and their families, especially from a supporter of the arts like (Franchot). Students are gifted in ways other than academics, and this is a big way to honor students who excel in other areas. Kids have multiple talents, and we don't want to lose that."

Rockburn Principal Lauren Bauer echoed Coates' sentiment, and said "art is a wonderful part of life, and it shows we all have talents in different areas."

Franchot launched the Maryland Masters program last summer in an effort to foster creativity and artistry among the state's students. Three students from each Maryland district received the award.

At Rockburn, Franchot said the idea came to him after visiting with John Hendricks, the chief executive officer and founder of Discovery Communications, the Silver Spring-based digital media company mainly known for the Discovery Channel.

"At Discovery, people told me, 'Yeah, we need people with technological skills — we're in digital media — but most of all we need people on the creative side,' " Franchot said. "It's that connection between the arts and the economy of the state that really went into creating this award. Sometimes, the technological people aren't very creative, and they're not what companies like Discovery need. We need people like these three young people who can create things."

Franchot said he left his visit to Discovery with an understanding that technology can be taught, but creativity can't. It instead must be fostered and encouraged.

"The idea is that there's a direct connection between the creativity of the arts and economic growth," Franchot said. "We can't emphasize enough how important (the arts) are for the economy. People forget that."

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