TAMPA – It’s a half-hour of controlled chaos. Involve a group of middle school students and it can get crazy.
Every year Blake High School, 1701 North Blvd., Tampa, hosts the Iron Artist competition. Teams comprised of three middle school students from around the county compete in a contest to benefit Blake’s fine arts program. They have a half-hour to compose a piece of art based on a written description of what they had to draw, a back story on the art they created, and the final product – all within 30 minutes.
It is a tough task and competition is stiff, but Oliva McLeod and Claudia Calzadilla, students from Buchanan Middle School, 1001 W. Bearss Ave., placed third in the competition.
The project? The competitors were charged with creating a half-human, half-bumble bee, similar to Blake’s mascot, the Yellow Jacket.
The students knew in advance what they would have to create so they thought they were ready. Along with teammate Calvin Ortiz, they got to work.
“We started drawing features on the bee and the human body and it grew from there,” Olivia said. “We started with the bee features and made them into human features. We never panicked.”
Everyone had his or her own job. Claudia was the “runner,” going from place to place to collect materials for the project. The art materials were scattered throughout the Blake gym, and she had a game plan, knowing where to run for whatever material was needed.
“It was tough but we had it all planned out,” Claudia said. “All we were given was a description of what we had to do. We got a break once we looked at the gym.”
The Blake gym has a huge painting of its mascot and the Buchanan students were keeping at least one corner of an eye peeled on the painting the entire time.
“We had to rush, but so did everybody else,” Olivia said. “We tried to take our time but we kept calm. We looked at the painting and that helped a little bit, but we knew what we had to do once we started.”
When they aren’t Iron Artists, Claudia and Olivia like to draw and sketch in their spare time. Olivia likes to draw faces, just one of the aspects of drawing her learned from her father, a Cuban immigrant. Both Claudia and Olivia attend Buchanan’s STEM program.
Claudia said the key to her artistic skills is all in her head.
“I like drawing and always stay positive,” she said. “I don’t like the negative, so I have fun with it.”
Both said that, as sixth-graders at Buchanan, they have at least two more competitions. They said they are not finished yet. Third place was great, but they are ready for more.