FEATURE — February 1, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Natalie Szkwarek places first in the Orange Bowl Creative Art Contest

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Natalie’s award-winning contest artwork features earth, peace signs, athletes, people, a hand, as well as a quote and the Orange Bowl mascot. Photo courtesy of Natalie Szkwarek

Natalie Szkwarek, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was named the first place winner for the Orange Bowl Creative Art contest on Dec. 18, 2020. The contest began on Oct. 13, 2020, and the submission deadline was Dec. 4, 2020. She was announced as the winner of the high school grade category via email and received a $200 Nike gift card. 

The contest focuses on a different theme each year, revolving around Capital One’s Orange Bowl football. The theme of the 2020 year was love and unity in the community. The goal of the participants is to adhere to this theme in a creative way. 

The Orange Bowl contest rules and instructions were directly sent to all schools in South Florida. All K-12 students in Miami-Dade and Broward County had the chance to participate in the 2020 Orange Bowl Creative Art Contest and had the opportunity to win the awards and be featured on their website.

“The inspiration of my work stems from the contest theme and mascot of the organization,” Szkwarek said. “The guidelines provided a lot of inspiration of what should be included to form a coherent piece.”

According to the Orange Bowl website, in order to submit an entry, artists are required to adhere to various rules. Some of these requirements include that the piece must be original work, show good use of design, utilize medium or media that will not smear and be a maximum size 18’’ x 24.’’

Additionally, an entry form must be submitted digitally with any artwork and posters should include the following: South Florida, OBIE, college football and the 2020 theme. All entries had to be submitted by Friday, Dec. 4, 2020.

“My entry includes imagery of how Orange Bowl brings Florida football fans together,” Szkwarek said.

All participants have the opportunity to be the Grand Prize winner, top three in their respective grade divisions, or the People’s Choice Award. All artwork received was reviewed by a panel of Orange Bowl staff and committee members. 

“I was pretty shocked when I won because I truly didn’t think I was going to place,” Szkwarek said.

Szkwarek began taking art seriously when she was 13-years-old. At the age of 15,  placed second in a Coral Springs voting poster contest. Now at 16-years-old, Szkwarek has placed first in her second creative art contest.

“I began teaching Natalie her freshman year,” art teacher Jaquelene Liberman said. “Some of her strong suits when it comes to art are drawing and ceramics.”

Outside of drawing, Szkwarek’s other hobbies include sewing and ceramics. Over quarantine, she got into fashion design and sewing projects. 

Currently, Szkwarek has been looking for other creative art contests to join, including the Texaco Art Competition. Though she currently does not have much time for art, she still hopes to improve and become more consistent. 

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Lexi Dalva is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Her hobbies include playing basketball and tennis. In her free time she likes to shop, watch Netflix and hang out with friends.

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