Ad Astra Per Aspera

Senior named finalist in state art competition

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Regan Byrnes, Web Editor

Johnson County’s Art Council established the Shooting Stars Scholarship Award Program in 1997, which has been inspiring tons of teens throughout the years. 

This program encourages students to explore their creativity in any art medium of their choice and proudly submit their hard work to be recognized on a national level. 

Although only about 1,000 high school students are acknowledged at the end of the entire competition, senior Alyssa Merry made the cut. Merry was nominated for the Shooting Stars program due to her talent in three-dimensional art and ceramics pieces. 

“I feel like I have a very specific art style that may not be as common, especially with ceramics,” Merry said. “It’s more of a whimsical, storytelling aspect.” 

To be able to participate in the Shooting Stars Program, students must be a senior, a resident of Johnson County and chosen by their art teacher. After being selected, Merry believes the piece that got her nominated was a ceramics project she made last semester. 

“A particular piece of mine that stands out — I have a [ceramic] snail that doubles as a jar [and] it has little houses on the [snail] shell,” Merry said. 

But soon enough, the excitement starts to wear off and is quickly replaced by life-consuming pressure knowing there will be a difficult journey ahead. 

“It’s definitely been very stressful,” Merry said. “I started with none of my pieces finished [and] I had to submit five of them [before Jan. 13]. Starting from nothing and only having a couple of months to get everything done was a lot of work.”

Merry worked tirelessly on endless amounts of projects to hopefully achieve a scholarship from the Art Council’s Award Program and be featured in the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park. 

“There is a scholarship included, and some of the people who make physical artwork, like painting, 2D art and photography will get a piece displayed in the Nerman Museum,” Merry said. “The scholarship is $1,400 for first place and $700 for second place with the $300 reward for the teachers that helped the first place winners.”

Merry said she is extremely appreciative of being a part of the Shooting Stars program. Even though she was hesitant about the competition, Merry is grateful for this opportunity. 

“It’s a very big honor to be a part of it — I didn’t realize how much work I would have to put into it and how much I’d have to stretch my ceramics skills,” she said. “It was definitely a learning experience.”

Despite the excessive personal time she put into this competition, it allowed her to reflect on the past and remember why expressing herself through art has always been important to her. 

“I’ve always been doing art since I was little with crayons and stuff,” Merry said. “I really started going back into art last year, and that has really inspired me to think about continuing with art in my future and possibly double major or minor in college.”