On April 27 art students junior Agua Mendoza and senior Trudie Sladovnik participated in the state VASE competition in San Marcos after advancing through multiple rounds of competition.
For Agua, the adventure almost didn’t happen.
Throughout high school Agua spent her days after school with her family, and she expressed herself by either drawing or taking pictures all around DFW and places her family went together.
When Agua found out she had earned a trip to State VASE, she assumed her parents wouldn’t let her go to San Marco for three days almost four hours away from home without family members present. After Agua told art teacher Michaela Hanna that she did not want to participate, Mrs. Hanna would not take no for an answer. She called Agua’s father.
“At first, I did not want Mrs. Hanna to call my dad,” Agua said. “However, I had an amazing experience from driving to competing and then coming home.”
Some of Agua’s friends were not surprised by Mrs. Hanna’s response.
“I don’t personally have Mrs. Hanna as a teacher, but I do spend some time in her class,” senior Luis Lirio said. “From the time I have spent, I did realize how involved she is with her students’ art work, like a mentor.”
Agua didn’t know Trudie or the other two girls, one from Saginaw High School and one from Boswell, who traveled with them to VASE.
“I felt out of place because we came from different backgrounds, but they were nice,” Agua said. “On the way back, Mrs. Hanna was driving and an owl flew into the left headlight of the vehicle. It’s the memories like that one that I will remember the most about VASE, not the actual competing.”
Agua entered a photo of a glass Coca-Cola bottle, “from Mexico, because they taste better,” in the first round of the competition.
It had condensation droplets on the bottle as it had been cold but set out in the heat.
“I took that photo with my old iPod. I didn’t have my actual camera,” Agua said. “My photo entered at State is a photo of a lightbulb at Razoos, a restaurant in downtown Fort Worth.”
In the lightbulb photo, the detail is enough to see the dust on the bulb and the family sitting at the table – Agua’s family.
“l didn’t go to VASE because my art was good, I went because my photo was genuine,” Agua said. “My family all sitting together, it really showed a reflection of who we are and what we came from.”