16th Annual Wells Fargo Student Visual Art Contest


The 16th Annual Wells Fargo Student Visual Art Contest is inspired by the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Cloud Gate is the name of the oldest known dance in China. In 1973, choreographer Lin Hwai-min adopted this classical name for the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese speaking community. The virtuosity of Cloud Gate has made critics proclaim that the dancers “possess a control and articulation that verge on the superhuman. These are performers who can make stillness every bit as eloquent as animation.” Its 24 dancers receive training in meditation, Qi Gong, an ancient form of breathing exercise, internal martial arts, modern dance, ballet and calligraphy. Through Lin Hwai-min’s choreography the company transforms ancient aesthetics into thrilling modern celebration of motion.

The art contest is presented by Society for the Performing Arts in conjunction with Cloud Gate’s performance of Songs of the Wanderers on April 5, 2014 at Jones Hall. Choreographed by Lin Hwai-min, Songs of the Wanderers is a visually stunning tribute to spiritual pilgrimage. The work creates a world of intense reverence that is distinctly Asian in its imagery, yet with powerful relevance far beyond. Artwork with a distinctive Asian quality or characteristic is not required, but successful entries will incorporate this year’s theme, Power of Positive and the design elements of a mandala. 

Power of Positive

Through the creation and display of artwork centered on positive thinking, right action and collective impact, this year’s contest aims to have students investigate their role in the worldenvision solutions to personal issues and global problems and connect to the larger community. With the assistance of art educators and parents, young artists entering the contest should explore the positive attributes he or she brings to his or her family and community; identify challenges faced by friends and neighbors, and illustrate how an individual’s thoughts and actions lead to progress and resolutions.

Symbolic Circles

Since circles are universally associated with meditation, healing and prayer, they symbolize and align with the artistic principles of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. A mandala, the Sanskirt word for circle, will serve as the motif for this year’s art contest. A mandala is a visual design created from repeating shapes organized around a center point to reflect concepts of balance, wholeness
and connection. A mandala is a symbol of the universe in its ideal form, and its creation signifies the transformation of a universe of suffering into one of joy. In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that metaphysically or symbolically represents the cosmos.

The art contest is open to students in grades K-12 attending public, private or home schools in the Greater Houston Area.

Students compete in five divisions for Awards or Scholarships.
Division A - Grades K-2
Division B - Grades 3-5
Division C - Grades 6-8
Division D - Grades 9-11
Division E - High School Seniors

The entries will be judged on creativity, artistic skills and interpretation of the theme.
  • Personal Expression: Does the artwork provide evidence of creativity and individuality? Is the result distinctive? Does it leave an impression?
  • Technique: Does the piece display mastery of the media and tools utilized to craft the artwork? Is it well-executed? 
  • Style: Did the artist effectively compose and organize the elements of art? Is the concept presented in a unique way? Is it original?
  • Integration: Is the artist’s interpretation of the theme and motif evident in the artwork? What is the artist’s point of view and how is it revealed?
The panel of judges will select a total of twenty-two winners. 1st Place through 3rd Place for Divisions A - E, up to five Honorable Mention awards and several Recognized Entries in each division.The award and scholarship winning entries along with honorable mentions and recognized entries will be displayed in the Wells Fargo Art Contest Exhibit. The winning contestants along with their teachers will be invited to the Cloud Gate Theatre of Taiwan's performance of Songs of the Wanders. 

April 5, 2014 - An award ceremony to celebrate with family and friends will precede the performance.

Submitting Artwork

Please read all information and follow instructions carefully. 

March 3, 2014 -Registration begins

Inventory Sheets:
Teachers entering the contest on behalf of 5 or more students should submit an Inventory Sheet. The sheets will be accepted at the time of delivery only before 2:30 PM on March 17, 2014. All the artwork on a teacher's Inventory Sheet must be delivered together at one time. Each submission must be labeled.
March 17, 2014 - Art Contest Deadline 
2:30 PM - Deadline to submit Registration Forms and Inventory sheets 
6:30 PM - Deadline to deliver artwork

The completed registration forms and inventory sheets can be submitted via email (jessica@spahouston.org), fax (713-632-8122), phone (713-632-8112) or in person upon delivering the artwork. 

Artwork must remain unsigned and anonymous, but the contest registration form must be printed and attached to the back of each submitted artwork. Artist Statements are not required for entry in Divisions A, B & C (Elementary and Middle School grade level), but they are recommended. Artists entering Division D & E (Grades 9-11 and High School Seniors ) must submit an Artist Statement upon delivery. Approximately 50 to 75 words are recommended for an Artist’s Statement. It should include the title of the artwork, the date of completion and a description of the media utilized. Teachers and parents may assist in writing and/or transcription the Artist’s Statement. Submitted artwork must be on paper or fabric. Artists can submit only one entry per year. We only accept work by individual artists. Group art projects and collective efforts are not allowed.

Maximum Size and Dimensions:
Rectangles: 16 x 20 inches
Circles: 19 inches in diameter
Squares: 19 X 19 inches
All other shapes must fit within the maximum dimensions of the rectangle, circle or square. Matting is recommended, but not required. The size and dimension restrictions above do not include the matting. Please do not use matting wider than 2 inches. Artwork should be not thicker than 1/2 inch.

Artwork should be submitted by the student artist or by a teacher or parent with the consent of the student artist. Teachers and Parents entering the contest on behalf of three or more young artists must include a printed inventory form upon delivery. The inventory form should be completed online at least 4 hours before the contest entry deadline. 

Artwork with completed forms may be mailed in a portfolio/envelope or delivered in person to the following address: 
Society for the Performing Arts
Attn: Education Department
615 Louisiana, Suite 100
Houston, Texas 77002

Clearly label the envelope or portfolio with:
Artist’s or Teacher’s Name
School Name
School Address
Telephone Number
Email Address


The art contest is the centerpiece of SPA’s Creativity Challenge, a series of activities and events to promote learning in the visual, performing and cultural arts. The Creativity Challenge celebrates the skill and dedication of educators and the imagination of students in grades K-12. Art educators and parents are invited to attend The Art of Teaching Creativity - a professional development workshop for teachers seeking to participate in the Creativity Challenge. The art contest submission guidelines and judging process will be reviewed and discussed. Explore mandalas from various cultures. Practice techniques in abstract color, collage and calligraphy. Get tips and advice from teachers with successful contest track records.

Important Dates

  • Monday, October 7, 2013 - The Art of Teaching Creativity at 9:30am - 2:30pm
  • Monday, March 3, 2014 - Online contestant registration opens at 10:00am 
Student Submissions are accepted by appointment only except during Curbside Drop-Off Service Hours.

Curbside Drop-Off Service Hours: Located at the corner of Capital and Louisiana. 
  • Monday, March 3, 2014 - Curbside Drop-Off Service 4:30-6:30pm 
  • Monday, March 10, 2014 - Curbside Drop-Off Service 4:30-6:30pm
  • Monday, March 17, 2014 - Curbside Drop-Off Service 4:30-6:30pm
Art Contest Deadline
  • Monday, March 17, 2014 - Online contest registration closes at 2:30pm
  • Monday, March 17, 2014 - Deadline for student submissions 6:30pm
Panel Review
  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 - Panel Review at 9:30 -11:30am
Award Ceremony
  • Saturday, April 5, 2014 - Award Ceremony at 3:00pm, Jones Hall
  • Art Exhibit Opens at 5pm, Jones Hall
  • Cloud Gate Performance at 8pm, Jones Hall
Student Art Exhibit
  • April 8 – 26, 2014 - Student Art Exhibit


Educator Workshop Packet
The Art of Teaching Creativity

Symbolism of Rice
Dawn Mountain 

Mandala 366, Community Mandala Project
How to grow a mandala
How to make a mystical eye (Ojo de dios)
Free Mandala coloring pages & worksheets
Free Mandala downloads

Examples of Artist Statements
Teaching children to write Artist Statements
Artist Statements for Young Artists

Lim Chung
Calligraphy Dance
Tutorial: Calligraphy for Beginners 1
Tutorial: Calligraphy for Beginners 2
Ink Recipes

Art League Houston
Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Glassell Junior School
Houston Center for Photography

Contact Us

For help developing lesson plans or submitting artwork, please contact:

Jessica Capistran Nieto, Education Coordinator
713-632-8112 • jessica@spahouston.org
Special thanks to Wells Fargo Bank, corporate sponsor of SPA’s art contest.

Jesse H. Jones Hall    615 Louisiana Street, Suite 100    Houston, Texas 77002-2715    713.227.4772
©2011 Society for the Performing Arts. All rights reserved.