Art contest puts talent on display


First place winner Erykah Pittman, 14, left, reacts as she is handed a first place prize and her artwork by Ungela Cousar.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region were able to showcase their artistry and creativity by highlighting historic African-American figures as part of a contest sponsored by a national full-service wireless carrier.

U.S. Cellular announced the top three winners of its third annual “Black History Month Art Competition” with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region on Monday. Erykah Pittman won first place and was awarded a $250 gift card, while Ayanna Gilmore finished second and received a $150 gift card. Michelle Taylor earned third place and was given a $100 gift card.

Gilmore drew a picture of civil rights icon the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., while Taylor’s drawing featured abolitionist Harriet Tubman and Pittman’s artwork was of Madam C.J. Walker, who was born Sarah Breedlove and created specialized hair products for African-American hair and was one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire.

Pittman said last year she won the contest for her drawing of acclaimed jazz musician Miles Davis.

“It feels great to have won it again,” she said. “I learned some new things when doing research on our great African-American people. Also, when I did my drawing, I picked up new techniques to help my artwork.”

Ron Jackson, store manager for U.S. Cellular in Rocky Mount, said the top 10 entries from the club members were displayed duringFebruary at area U.S. Cellular stores in Rocky Mount, where the public voted for their favorites during Black History Month. The artwork included portraits of business people, sport figures, historical figures and celebrities.

Jackson added the artwork allowed the youth to be educated on the famous pioneers in African-American history, tap into their creativity and bring awareness about the positive things happening at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region artwork created for this contest is always impressive, and we were thrilled to celebrate with the winners,” Jackson said. “It’s the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the talent of our youth by commemorating African-American icons that have influenced the course of history while celebrating the diversity our country.”

Councilman Andre Knight came by to show his support for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region.

“I look and see so many young brilliant minds — that brings hope to this city and me as well,” Knight said. “This is one of the reasons why I’m proud to call Rocky Mount my home.”

Ron Green, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region, said the reason he loves the competition is because it gives youth an opportunity to expand their mind and learn more about African-American history than the notable people such as King and Rosa Parks.

“We look forward to this opportunity each year for our young people,” Green said. “This is a great way to allow our club members the opportunity to show off their artistic talent to their friends, family and the community. This opportunity from U.S. Cellular also gives club members a chance to learn more about iconic individuals in American and world history.

“One of these kids one day might be part of Black History Month, and someone might be drawing a picture of them for their contribution in the world.”