The assignment was to draw a portrait of someone meaningful.
Victoria Oserei chose actor Chadwick Boseman, whose death last August shocked costars and filmmakers like Spike Lee and Ryan Coogler. Boseman, who continued filming throughout a four-year battle with colon cancer, kept knowledge of his illness confined to a tight circle of family and the closest of friends.
“Everybody was so shocked,” said Oserei, a junior at La Vergne High School.
Oserei is one of nine Rutherford County students to be honored among the 2021 Middle Tennessee Scholastic Art Award winners, and one of three — Taylor Sanderson and Savannah Sawyer — to be named Gold Key winners.
Sanderson and Sawyer, who received a pair of Gold Keys, both attend Stewarts Creek High.
This will be the 30th year both Gold and Silver Key winners will have their work on exhibit at Cheekwood Mansion in Nashville Feb. 6-21. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and advanced timed tickets must be purchased online before arrival.
Winning work is also curated online on the Cheekwood website.
“I was like, wow,” said Oserei, when she was told she had been awarded a prestigious Gold Key. “I enjoy drawing and I hope other people enjoy this.”
In recent years, Boseman had portrayed historical figures James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall, but he achieved his greatest success playing Marvel superhero Black Panther.
“Black Panther is like the first really big Black superhero,” Oserei said, “and so it’s like really meaningful to the Black community. It was like based around an African culture — from Nigeria actually — and it just showed that Africa is more than just poverty.”
Oserie added, “It was a like a big shock to the entire world when he died.”
Switching from mechanical to graphite pencils allowed Oserei to spend more time on what became the most detailed portrait she’s ever drawn. A variation of graphite allowed her to focus on fine details versus blending and another pencil for the darker pigment.
“They really helped me … make my project look better,” said Oserie, who has also taken on some freelance assignments for a commission. “One of my friends asked me to draw a picture for one of her friends who was in a car accident.”
Oserie said she plans to start her own business and continue doing more commission work for people.
“I’m mostly good with traditional art because that’s where everybody starts,” Oserie said. “(Then) you go into digital art, but I just want to do something art-related because that makes me happy.
“Once you put yourself out there,” she concluded, “you get more people coming to you.”
The following is a complete list of 2021 winners from RCS:
Victoria Oserei (La Vergne High)
Taylor Sanderson (Stewarts Creek High)
Savannah Sawyer, x2 (Stewarts Creek High)
Starr Bryant (Stewarts Creek High)
Cameron Messerly (Stewarts Creek High)
Savannah Sawyer (Stewarts Creek High)
Amarantha Charlemagne Alvarez, x3 (La Vergne High)
Starr Bryant, x4 (Stewarts Creek High)
Angel Hu (Central Magnet)