On May 30, sophomore Danielle Smith was recognized for her outstanding artistic talent in this year’s Maryland Art Education Association art competition, themed “Contemporary Youth.” Smith was the only student in the Howard County Public School System to receive the honor of having her artwork exhibited at the Maryland Youth Art Gallery at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Both the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) and the Maryland Art Education Association (MAEA) sponsor the Maryland Youth Art Gallery, located in the BWI Airport Observation Gallery. The MAEA is an art advocacy organization, composed of over 500 educators and artists, that hopes “to advocate for and advance art education in Maryland to fulfill human potential and promote global understanding” by going beyond the boardroom and into the classrooms.
The MAEA maintains that students who regularly participate in the arts are more successful in other social and academic endeavors. The organization finds that these individuals are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, elected to class office, participate in math and science fairs and write award-winning writings. The MAEA also believes that a formal education supplemented with the fine arts is an indispensable aspect of child development. They therefore tirelessly help to ensure that fine arts courses will always be available and supported at all Maryland schools, including Mt. Hebron.
It is clear to see through her success that Smith truly embodies the beneficial side of a formal education in the arts. Smith says that she has been interested in the arts since the fourth grade and explains that her artwork is an uncensored and uninhibited reflection of the way she perceives the world around her.
“Sometimes I paint until I feel accomplished, and sometimes I [will] paint just for fun to give myself time to think,” Smith said. Her journey in the field of art began when her art teacher encouraged her to enter her artwork into the Columbia Mall art show, thus thrusting her into the art exhibition scene.
Smith’s painting, “My Best Friend,” completed with the use of tempura paint, features a collage of several colorful dogs and was selected as one of the top 25 pieces in the region for display at the BWI gallery.
When asked about her inspiration for the particularly whimsical and striking painting, Smith replied with the simple, straightforward answer that dogs have always offered her comfort and companionship. “Sumo [her dog] was my first choice to paint because I trained him ever since he was a puppy,” she said.
It is safe to say that, in the future, Smith’s unmistakable talent and drive will undeniably lead her to success in the field of art as it has done before. For those interested in admiring moving artwork, including Smith’s piece, from around the area up close, the BWI Observation Gallery, boasting aviation exhibits in addition to the updated Maryland Youth Art Gallery, is located on the upper level of the airport and is open to the public.