Connecting communities through the News + Record’s art contest

Posted 8/14/20

The News + Record officially kicked off its first-ever art contest on Aug. 3. The contest’s organizers — which include two CN+R staff members, a Kentucky journalism professor and a visiting Duke …

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Connecting communities through the News + Record’s art contest

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The News + Record officially kicked off its first-ever art contest on Aug. 3. The contest’s organizers — which include two CN+R staff members, a Kentucky journalism professor and a visiting Duke University scholar from China — are calling upon Chatham residents to document this unique period in history using their artistic medium of choice, from painting to dancing.

This week, we sat down with Siqi Zhang, the president of the North Carolina Chinese Scholars Sino-US Exchange Association and a visiting scholar at Duke University, to discuss the project. Zhang is helping to promote the art contest and enlist NCCSEA members as judges along with Buck Ryan, the director of the Citizen Kentucky Project on civic engagement, and News + Record Publisher and Editor Bill Horner III and Digital Intern Caroline Watkins.

Earlier in January, Zhang was at home in China, visiting her family. In fact, she made it back to the states right before the COVID-19 outbreak was announced in Wuhan.

“I got back to the US for 10 days before Trump ordered to (block) flights from China,” she said.

Once Zhang got back from her trip, she continued to carefully monitor the news in her home country about the outbreak.

“It was a really hard time, you know,” Zhang said. “At the time, it was the Chinese traditional Lunar New Year, so they had to celebrate a holiday at home.”

On January 23, the city of Wuhan was placed under lockdown, which left around 11 million people quarantined in the heart of the pandemic outbreak.

During that time, people were adjusting to their new normal of quarantining in their homes — a similar fate the U.S. would experience just a few months later.

When people were stuck inside and looking for ways to occupy their time, a number of Chinese outlets held art contests, including a newspaper challenge launched on China’s Facebook, Weibo. The winning artwork from the contests quickly went viral online because people could relate to the scenes and sentiments depicted in the artwork.

Zhang wanted to bring the idea of an art contest to Chatham, using her network to connect the Chinese and American communities during such a difficult time.

“Art is related to human nature and emotion no matter what your (nationality) is,” she said. She hopes the contest will allow the American and Chinese communities in North Carolina to foster “a good relationship with each other.”

You can find more information about the contest in the “Art Contest” section of the newspaper’s website, where you can also submit your entries.

Inspired by winners’ artwork in previous art contests in China, the three categories for the art contest are: food, heroes and love. Art submissions can be in a variety of forms, from traditional mediums to multimedia to even performative work.

The News + Record will be accepting submissions until Monday, Aug. 24. The voting process will be two-fold: the newspaper’s team will pick winners in each category, but we will also be inviting our readers to weigh in for the “readers’ favorites” category via social media during the week of Aug. 24.

Winners will be announced on Aug. 31 and their masterpieces published in the newspaper, in print and online.

At the end of the day, Zhang hopes that this contest will help make this difficult time “much more beautiful and joyful” for all.

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