|2012 NESCBWI Poster Contest - 1st Place unpublished by Milanka Reardon|
|Milanka and Marcela (3rd place poster contest winner and winner of the Ann Barrows scholarship)!|
I was so honored and surprised to have my poster win in the 2012 NESCBWI poster contest! And especially happy for my friend Marcela! Last year when I attended my first New England conference I realized something really amazing. I am part of a group of RISD students, teachers and alumni who are probably the most supportive artist group around. Last year as I looked around at the large number of people attending the conference and then at our RISD group which numbered at least 8 or 9 people, I was amazed at how many times someone in our group got up to win a prize - Jeanette for 1st place poster contest, Lin for 2nd in People's choice and Caroline for 3rd place unpublished and Kristina for 3rd place published! Wow, how lucky was I to be a part of this group! Even though I didn't win, I was among a group of the most talented and hard working people I know. And if I keep learning with them and from them, someday my turn will come!
I learned so much at this conference but even more from our RISD class critiques and group critiques. It is essential to step back and look at your artwork with a different set of eyes. I don't know how many times I've listened to advice from my classmates or teachers and thought wow, that's great - how did I not see that. But all of this wonderful advice is always given in such a positive way that everyone benefits and learns. Thank you to all of the RISD teachers for not only giving us great critiques but for teaching us how to give a critique! And a complement - it goes such a long way when someone says something nice about our artwork. It may be the incentive needed not to give up on our art altogether. That is why an award or a kind word from our peer group means so much to all of us. It's what we need not to give up on the hope of being published someday soon!
My poster this year has so much meaning to me because it was the result of me finally returning to Yugoslavia (where I was born and which no longer exists) after more than 40 years. I was finally reunited with my Croatian cousins who survived the wars over there. On our quest to find where I was born (now the country of Montenegro) we drove through Bosnia and to this beautiful bridge in Mostar, Bosnia. I was amazed to learn that this bridge has been rebuilt since the war in the 1990's. It was blown up to keep the Muslims on one side and the Christians on the other. And while some buildings next to it are pristine, others still have hundreds of bullet holes in them and trees are growing through the middle of the houses. This image was haunting me until I put pencil to paper and in my story the dragons live on one side and people on the other. But really, the ordinary little ones just want to be friends.