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Behind the Scenes with M'art'ch Madness Winners

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Recently, five young artists across the state of Utah received awards from the M’art’ch Madness multidisciplinary arts competition that focused on the theme 'Arts for Life.' Irene Hu was awarded the grand prize. Ingrid Payne, Sadie Taylor, and Madi Fairbanks were awarded judges’ choice awards. Each artist was asked the following questions:

What do you want people to know about you?

What do you want to share about the process of creating your piece?

What is your favorite aspect of your piece?

What does it mean to be an artist?

Today, we highlight and celebrate these artists, their work, and their stories.

Irene Hu: Grand Prize Winner

Age 15, Cedar High School


DeviantArt: moonieDoodles

My name is Irene Hu, and I'm 15 years old. I was born in upstate New York, and I have a twin sister, who I do almost everything with. Art has always been a big and influential part of my life. It's one of the things that makes me who I am. In fact, I started drawing when I was a tiny toddler who could barely even walk! Other than art, my hobbies consist of reading, playing tennis, playing golf, playing the piano, and playing the violin. I'm the concertmaster of the Cedar High Symphonic Orchestra, and I've just recently won the Halversen Young Artist Competition that's hosted by the Orchestra of Southern Utah. My favorite subject in school is math, although lunch is a close second.

The process of creating my artwork was quite the ride. I went through numerous rough drafts until I finally settled on one that felt just right. Since the theme of the competition was 'Arts for Life,' my goal was to portray how the arts of life would forever be pure and golden, no matter the situation. At the time, everyone had just come out of the big COVID-19 lockdown, and some parts of the world were still shut down. Because of what a big impact COVID-19 had on everyone's lives, I decided to incorporate the pandemic into my art. I chose to draw a balcony scene, since during the lockdown, people living in apartments would all come out onto their balconies and listen to their neighbors perform an instrument, sing opera, etc. My artwork depicts a girl playing the violin and the neighbors around her listening to her performance. Through this piece, I wanted to show that even if COVID-19 had aroused chaos and sickness across the world, the 'arts of life' would still be the one thing that held everyone together and brightened up everyone's day.

My favorite aspect of my piece is the girl playing the violin. Because I play the violin, I feel very connected with the girl in my picture.

To me, being an artist means to not be afraid to express your feelings and your point of view. It means to fearlessly share your inner voice and let the world hear it. It means to bravely put your dreams and emotions on paper, even if you are scared of the outcome. Artists are accepting, and aren't prejudiced toward a specific race or ethnicity. I don't think someone has to physically 'try to be' an artist in order to be an artist. I believe that we are all artists, regardless of our thoughts or purposes. To me, being an artist means to be spirited and valiant.

Ingrid Payne: Judges’ Choice Award

Age 16, Grand County High School



Ever since I was little I've always loved making things, whether that be drawings, paintings, clothes, etc., and as I've gotten older it's really become more than just a hobby to me. Over the past two or three years, I've been working on building my own business and a name for myself on social media. I sell my art on Etsy and that has become a huge part of my life and actually helped me to buy a car last year. I hope in the future I can continue to make art that I love to make and that others enjoy seeing.

When I start a piece with a vision already in mind, the beginning stage or the sketching is always my favorite. Sketching gives me the freedom to make mistakes and to be imaginative with my designs. After the initial sketch, this piece took about seven or eight hours to complete. The background alone is one of the most complex and time-consuming backgrounds I've done, but also one of my favorites. It was very therapeutic to draw and by the end, the characters were a nice break from drawing clouds.

I really love how vibrant all the colors are and how the sun shines so brightly from behind the colorful clouds.

Being an artist isn't just about being technically good at what you do, it's about putting what you see in the world and inside yourself into your pieces. When you're an artist you see art everywhere, and you see the beauty and potential in things that other people don't find valuable. To be an artist you have to be in tune with your mind and your soul, and most importantly you have to enjoy making something, even if you don't like the outcome. Art is all about expressing yourself through the process, not the final result.

Madi Fairbanks: Judges’ Choice Award

Age 17, Olympus High School

Some things about myself are I love being with my family and friends and I enjoy hiking, playing volleyball, and of course making art!

The process of creating my piece basically just started with the idea of representing myself and the impact art has had on me. After I had the idea of creating a self portrait I sketched out the face and started painting. I wanted to have fun with it so I used some bright colors and crazy shapes to represent my personality. I start off my pieces neat and organized but as I get going I focus on the overall structure of the piece and not specific details which is my favorite part! I love getting messy later on and then finally finishing again with smaller, more precise details.

My favorite aspect of the piece is probably the color scheme and the messy details! I just really love fun colors and shapes and I love when art doesn't come out "perfect," I like seeing the actual brush strokes and lines.

To me being an artist just means expressing yourself. Art is so diverse; it cannot be confined into a specific rubric of qualifications, and that's the beauty of it! If you're creating something to show your feelings and creativity, it is art!

Sadie Taylor: Judges’ Choice Award

Age 18, Pine View High School

I love to draw, and I've done it my whole life. I know that's kind of an overused statement, but that's probably because for most artists, this is something that you're able to pick up at a young age and as you become better at it, your passion grows. I also love to make jewelry and pottery! I love listening to audiobooks at two times the speed and going on trail runs. Basically, I love to live my life fast. My family sometimes worries about me living a little too fast though, as I sometimes swamp myself in work and end up entirely spent!

This was probably one of the hardest pieces that I've done in a while--not in terms of color or skill, but form and layout. To create this piece and get the point across took several rough drafts to the point that at one point I just wanted to submit my best draft instead of sticking to it and finishing the piece. I think it came out really well though, and it's good I stuck with it because I feel happy with the result.

I was really happy that I got to put a little of mixed mediums into this piece, because I really wanted to get the paint palette across, and it's in a place where it wouldn't normally be seen easily. I'm also really happy with the skin. It was pretty simple, but I wanted it to wrinkle like a suit that hasn't quite been ironed out yet and I got just a little of that.

I have absolutely no idea what it means to be an artist! I feel like in today's society, where art has taken on such a relative and abstract form, it's hard to confine it to a definition.

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