Spigel Prize for Excellence in the Visual Arts
Congratulations to the Recipient of the 2022 Spigel Prize for Excellence in the Visual Arts, Dalton High School Senior Belisa Borrego!
My story takes place in the largest island of the Caribbean Sea, Cuba. I started my art journey at the early age of 4 through private art lessons with an art teacher named Mr. Blanco. Through his tutelage I learned the fundamentals of art at a very young age. In Cuba it was hard to find basic materials like brushes or acrylic paint, but I am thankful that I was able to work with all of these art supplies thanks to my family. Art is an integral part of who I am.
I stopped taking art classes for a moment in time and I picked back up when I was 8 years old. When I returned to the art lessons, Mr. Blanco was aware that I had to leave Cuba soon. The more time passed, the more difficult and full of tension my lessons with Mr. Blanco became because he had to teach me as much as he could before my departure. I was 12 years old and the most advanced student that Mr. Blanco had because while his other students were still learning how the color wheel works, I was working on many fields of perspective drawing. This was tough for a girl that was entering adolescence but thanks to those great lessons, they are what made me the artist that I am today.
Finally, in 2017 I came to the United States, and just like any other immigrant, I had to go through a lot of hard circumstances learning the language and how everything works in the new country. Besides, art was still inside of me and around 2018 I started to take it more seriously and started learning and practicing by myself. By using YouTube and social media, I found amazing artists that I truly admire and learned a lot from them. The years passed, I became a freshman in Dalton High School and my inner artist was starting to bloom. In this incredible school I have learned how to use my critical thinking and handle the hard work. It was an honor to meet my art teachers Mr. Ledford and Mrs. Lambert who always believed in me and encouraged me to keep improving. I will be forever grateful for everything my teachers have done for me. What they taught me will stay with me always. In my freshman year I went through hard times with a disease that hit me so bad that I had to stop going to school. Even if I was around a turmoil situation, the contrast of knowing that one of my paintings got first place in an exposition at the Creative Arts Guild was a huge achievement for me. It was my first blue ribbon which surprised me because I never imagined I could receive this during such times. In my junior year, I also won second place with my watercolor painting “Inner Child” in a virtual exposition from the Creative Arts Guild. This was a great prize that put a smile on my face in the middle of the pandemic. Now I am in the middle of my Senior year and to my surprise, after not having worked with clay for 8 years or so with Mr. Blanco, I won first place in the Georgia Agricultural Fair with a clay piece. This piece is a candle burner and it also got into an all-state competition. One of my favorite achievements is that from all students at Dalton High I got nominated by Mr. Ledford to represent art in the school banner, a privilege that cannot be described with words. It has been an honor earning all of these prizes that every time leaves me speechless.
I am very grateful for the Creative Arts Guild and my teachers for always recognizing my artwork. There is a lot of competition around and they still noticed my tiny art world. My skills would keep growing and more responsibilities have begun to appear in my Senior year. This is a decisive year because I have to make important decisions before and after my graduation. But, my art projects are getting larger and larger and my imagination is floating with a lot of new ideas and new artwork to come to life. My goal is becoming the best artist that I can possibly be.
Imagine that you are a 17-year-old high school senior that loves art and is given the opportunity to expose your art to the world. As artists, we see the world differently and through our artwork, we try to show a glimpse of what we see. I am fascinated with art worlds, tiny and large ecosystems with abstracted or realistic content that create exciting new compositions. By taking what I see in nature and around me, I build off of the natural creation to make a surrealist space in my artwork. I created a series of paintings and sculpture art that encompasses the world’s natural surroundings and all that it has to offer with my own twist. This allows me to understand nature and the power that it holds as well as to create and discover new and exciting microbiomes in my mind. Some of these creations were made as a response to the pandemic as a way to cope with the stress and to escape everyday life and the uncertainty that comes with it. I enjoy experimenting with multiple mediums that change with the different seasons of my life rather than getting stuck in one single medium because I like to see variety in my art pieces. As a reflection of how nature adapts to its circumstances, I like to get skilled with multiple materials like watercolor, acrylic, oil paint, clay, digital art, and so much more. Through these pieces, I went into a meditative state where I focused on the experience in each scene. However, throughout the peace and the tranquility, there is still a sense of pressure and obstacles that are a metaphor for the issues that I faced while I was quarantined. These works reflect what I see in nature and how it balances tranquility and turmoil. Using my passion, I created places that I could escape, taking a break from reality and diving into my fantasy worlds.