Two North East Independent School District students’ creations now grace the walls of Gov. Greg Abbott’s business office.
Cecilia Abbott, the governor’s wife, helped choose original designs from 12 Texas pupils – including Johnson High School’s Pedro Diaz and Reagan High School’s Ashton Kordas – for a yearlong exhibition.
The Texas Art Education Association in conjunction with Youth Art Month presents the student-art honors.
Diaz’s piece, titled “Reflection,” was generated using Prismacolor colored pencils. It contains a surreal image of a breakfast bowl filled with milk and sections of a human face instead of cereal.
“I am very honored for my artwork to be displayed and appreciated at the state Capitol and am very thankful for the opportunity,” Diaz said.
Kordas’ ink piece, titled “Cornutraditum,” captures colorful dogs playing and enjoying themselves.
His work at a doggie day care inspired him. Kordas had snapped a photo of a random group of canines and reproduced it with a sketching.
“I just thought it’d be cool to draw a picture of cute dogs hanging out,” he said. “There (are) a variety of dogs I see at my job.”
A junior at Johnson, Diaz said he didn’t take art seriously until seventh grade. Music is one of his main muses.
“When I hear a song I like, I begin to visualize what the song would feel like or look like if it was put on paper,” Diaz said. “I rarely ever draw if there is no music playing on my speakers or headphones because I don’t have any inspiration when there is complete silence.”
Kordas, also a junior, said he’s been creating art since early childhood.
“I was drawing all the time, using whatever I could use. I’d be drawing on menus in restaurants,” he recalled.
Teacher Ryan Williams said Diaz has a keen eye for mapping out detail, proportions and value with his pieces, especially portraits.
Williams suggested Diaz study Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo and other surrealists to produce a nontraditional portrait for the TAEA contest.
“His work retains his crisp, clean and meticulous mark-making, but now also has a layer of intrigue and mystery to it,” Williams added.
Kordas’ instructor, Karen Fox, said her art-honors student successfully acclimated to remote classes during the pandemic. She credits his previous teachers at Lopez Middle School and the North East School of the Arts.
“Ashton is self-sufficient and extremely talented. His work ethic and attention to detail and light shows in his work that was created in ink,” Fox said. “Ashton continues to produce stellar art on each assignment given.”
Aside from receiving the governor’s office honor, Kordas’ works have garnered awards in academic art competitions. Yet, he doesn’t plan to pursue the craft in college or professionally.
“I just want to keep it a hobby. I want to continue to do it while I have the time,” Kordas said.
Diaz plans to attend college and study to be an art teacher, while also continue creating illustrated works as a side career.
“I’ve already sold many commissioned drawings to clients and plan on continuing that in my career and hopefully make a business out of it,” he added.