The Socorro Independent School District Fine Arts Department, in partnership with the Green Hope Project, launched the inaugural Art 6ft Apart Contest in the spring and celebrated a virtual awards ceremony that was livestreamed via YouTube.
The unique Art 6ft Apart photo contest and online gallery was created to serve as an outlet for the SISD community to express themselves during the time of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very aware of the healing power of art even if it’s just in order to release some of that anxiety,” said SISD Fine Arts assistant director Candace Printz. “Witnessing all the photos that were submitted and then seeing the gallery in its entirety open up to the public, people were able to see that they are not alone. Everybody is going through the same thing and there is some comfort in that.”
Students, staff, and parents submitted 246 photos into the contest. The Top 100 were selected to be printed, framed, and displayed at the District Service Center.
Twenty-one pieces won awards for first through third place and honorable mentions. The numerous photos represented a variety of moments throughout the pandemic, including death, birthdays and graduations, and, most frequently, family bonding.
First-place winner in the employee category, Deborah Messer from Vista Del Sol Elementary, entered a photo called “End of Life.” The photo shows a pair of holding hands, her hand holding her father’s before he passed on April 22 from health complications due to pneumonia.
“They say that when people leave you all you are going to have left are the memories and a lot of those memories come from pictures,” Messer said. “So, I felt that if I couldn’t hold my dad’s hand physically at least I’d have a picture.”
The first-place winner in the parent category was Jamie Labrado, a parent from Eastlake High School and an essential health care worker. He took a photo of himself in his personal protective equipment while conducting COVID-19 lab tests. It was titled “I Can’t Stay Home, I’m Essential.”
“There are a lot of essential workers out there who are behind the scenes and we are all going through the same feelings right now,” Labrado said. “These are trying times and we have to really be safe.”
Labrado said he originally took the photo to show his children why he couldn’t go home and explain why everyone needs to practice social distancing.
Another winner from Eastlake High School was a student and the first place winner in the high school category. Derek Gamez captured his little sister looking sadly outside a window in his black and white photo, which he titled “Window Pain.”
“I chose her because just like other kids I know she wants to go outside to play with her friends and unfortunately she can’t due to current events,” Gamez said.
A little sister also was the subject of the first-place winner in the middle school category. Andrea Moreno, a student at Col. John O. Ensor Middle, titled her piece “Life During a Pandemic.” Her photo featured her little sister wearing a mask, using a tape measure to measure her distance around her and surrounded by arms holding products like toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
“I enjoyed this because photography is a hobby,” Moreno said.
Vivian Esparza, a student from Horizon Heights Elementary, was the first-place winner of the elementary category for her photo, “Living in a Shell of Protection.” She captured herself wearing a face mask while lying on the grass beside her pet turtle ‘Butters.’
“Butters is a metaphor since his shell protects him and me staying at home protects me,” Esparza said.
Printz said she hopes the contest helped in some way to alleviate stress or act as a positive distraction for those who participated.
“They are documenting a moment in time that will forever be remembered and this gives us photo evidence of how people were dealing with this,” Printz said. “Whether it’s funny, hopeful or sad, we now have this digital record of it.”
To view the Top 100 pieces of the Art 6ft Apart contest click here
Art 6ft Apart Awards
1st Place: Deborah Messer “End of Life” (Vista Del Sol ES)
2nd Place: Andrea Chaparro “Reminders” (Pebble Hills HS)
3rd Place: Laura Herrera “A Sister’s Support” (Escontrias ES)
Honorable Mention: Olga Elbancol “Working Mom” (SISD Library Services)
1st Place: Jaime Labrado “I Can’t Stay Home, I’m Essential” (Eastlake HS)
2nd Place: Evanie Gamboa “Masks” (Eastlake HS)
3rd Place: Martha Walker “Waiting for the End of COVID-19” (Sgt. Roberto Ituarte ES)
Honorable Mention: Claudia Sustaita “Tito and Tita” (Purple Heart ES)
High School Category
1st Place: Derek Gamez “Window Pain” (Eastlake HS)
2nd Place: Paulina Loya “18th Birthday” (Pebble Hills HS)
3rd Place: Akina Furuichi “Quaranteen” (El Dorado HS)
Honorable Mention: Omar Ramirez Corchado “Stay Alive” (El Dorado HS)
Middle School Category
1st Place: Andrea Moreno “Life During a Pandemic” (Col. John O. Ensor MS)
2nd Place: Elizabeth Cruz “The Last COVID Supper” (Sun Ridge MS)
3rd Place: Marisol Esparza “United We Stand” (Sgt. Manuel R. Puentes MS)
Honorable Mention: Kya Romo De Vivar “What It’s Like for Me In Isolation” (Sun Ridge MS)
Honorable Mention: Krystal Macias “Nature Trade” (Capt. Walter E. Clarke MS)
Elementary School Category
1st Place: Vivian Esparza “Living in a Shell of Protection” (Horizon Heights ES)
2nd Place: Isabella Salas “Baking With Bella” (Loma Verde ES)
3rd Place: Daren Chavez “My Life in Times of COVID-19” (Mission Ridge ES)
Honorable Mention: Sophia Gutierrez “Times Like These” (Myrtle Cooper ES)
The virutal awards ceremony was held on May 30.