Student artwork graces Palliser greeting card

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Trustee Don Boras thanks Akram Jomaa student Faoja Chowdhury for her winning greeting card submission.

CALGARY – Faoja Chowdhury appreciates the non-judgmental nature of art, but she’s still thrilled her work was selected to showcase Palliser Regional Schools.

Each year Palliser puts out a call for student artwork to grace its greeting card, which is sent out during the holiday season to thank supporters of the school division.  This year’s contest, which was open to all grades in the more than 50 schools flying Palliser colours, was won by the Grade 10 Akram Jomaa student.

Palliser Trustee Don Boras made a surprise visit to Chowdhury’s art class to present her with a special gift from the Board, as well as a supply of professionally-printed greeting cards bearing her art.

He kept the students in suspense, noting the winning entry came from their class, before explaining the contest’s parameters and commenting on the “incredible artwork” submitted. Boras then displayed the card and called Chowdhury to the front for the presentation.

“I want to wish you all the success as far as your future academic career and your artistic endeavours,” he told her, after she had received a hardy round of applause from classmates. “You’ve got a lot of talent, and obviously it was recognized.”

Art, said Chowdhury, has always been one of her favourite subjects. Not only does it help her relieve stress, the teenager appreciates the opportunity to express herself through her artwork.

“With art, it’s like you can do whatever you want,” she said. “It’s your style, so really no one can judge you about it. You can do whatever you want.”

Chowdhury said she’s been honing her artistic skills since she was “a kid.” She would watch cartoons on TV and try to copy their style, and later would make two comic books for school projects. Watercolour has been a favourite format, although she’s big into digital art now too.

As for her greeting card submission, she considered the theme –– “A Storybook Winter” – and thought of everything related to winter and Christmas.

“And I wanted my main character in it too,” said Chowdhury. “I had this idea if there were a book she was holding and all those elements came out of it – like the faeries and angels and everything – and she would sort of be looking at it in surprise, that’s what I sort of got my idea from.”

She was pleased with her watercolour, enhanced with pencil crayon, but said she was surprised by the presentation.

“All of my friends were really supportive, so they were like, ‘yeah, you are totally going to win,’ ” recalled Chowdhury. “At first I thought ‘yeah, I might win,’ but I didn’t know if it was good enough.”

Her art teacher, Fatima Schewczyk, wasn’t as surprised. She said Chowdhury is very thoughtful in her artwork and pays attention to detail.

“From the beginning, when I saw her first painting or her first drawing, I knew she had potential to be a great artist and I just hope she will continue, taking Art 20 and 30,” she said.

Schewczyk hopes Chowdhury’s winning entry will inspire more of her schoolmates to enter the showcase next year.

“So many students have a low self-esteem (about their artwork). They are actually really artistic and talented, but they don’t think their artwork is good,” she said. “Seeing that someone from their class won this competition, is amazing.”

See a selection of greeting card submissions in the photo gallery below.