When 16-year-old Levittown artist Rosita Bohorquez entered one of her paintings in the Shanti Fund art competition promoting peace through education, it was with scant hope that she would win any prize.
Rosita Bohorquez, a junior at General Douglas MacArthur High School in Levittown, said when she finished creating her painting, she showed her sister the piece and jokingly asked if she thought the piece would win. “We both looked at each other and said ‘nah’,” she said.
Now, with the guidance of her art teacher Tom Bobal, and five months after entering her painting into the contest sponsored by the Medford-based Hindu organization, Bohorquez has won $1101, and her piece will be included in the Fund’s 13th Anniversary 2019 Peace Art Calendar. She will receive a check at an awards ceremony at the Stonebridge Country Club in Hauppauge on April 25, according to a congratulatulatory letter the 11th-grader received from the Fund.
The acrylic painting consisted of a large tree protruding from roots buried underground. A peace sign connected the tree with its roots, as the face of the Indian leader of nonviolent anticolonial protests, Mohandas K. Gandhi, gazed down from a yellow and orange sun in the top left corner of the page. Three of Gandhi’s followers are pictured walking toward the tree as well.
Students in first- through 12th-grade throughout local school districts submitted artwork to the contest, according to a letter Bobal received telling the teacher that his student been chosen for the calendar. One painting was selected for each grade level for inclusion in the calendar. The prize money ranged from $101 to $1201, increasing by $100 for each grade level.
The contest’s only rule was for students to create pictures on the dual themes of peace and Gandhi. “I thought of peace and what Gandhi meant to people, and I put that into my drawing,” Bohorquez said.
Bohorquez painted her winning artwork in September as one of her sketchbook homework assignments in Bobal’s Drawing and Painting 2 course. Bobal and the other art teachers then selected works for entry from each grade level. In addition to Bohorquez’s painting,Bobal submitted work from ninth-grader Diane Gavrylyuk, 10th-grader Yarynka Dumanska and 12th-grader Lydia Torrance for consideration.
Bobal said he believed Bohorquez’s work was very well executed. “A lot of people struggle with the idea of what peace represents [and] what Gandhi represents,” he said. “A lot of people would draw a portrait of Gandhi but she kind of incorporated a portrait of Gandhi into her artwork,” she said.
Bohorquez is not sure what she will use her prize money for but anticipates saving it. “Other people have said I should treat myself,” she said.
Bohorquez said she enjoys art as a hobby and plans to continue dabbling in it throughout her life. She is a member of the MacArthur Art Honor Society as well. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and venturing into New York City.