The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and Trombone Shorty Foundation have announced the theme for its 2021 art and songwriting contest: “Alone Together: Art in the Time of Pandemic.”

Open to Louisiana high school juniors and seniors, 10 young artists and three songwriters will be awarded $25,000 in college scholarships. The foundations encourage students to reflect and explore their thoughts on this difficult year and create works of art and music inspired by their reflections, according to a news release.

Artists and songwriters can submit their original artwork or song/lyrics at https://georgerodriguefoundation.org/. Deadline for entry submission is Feb. 26. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the safety of all students, the 2021 awards ceremony will take place virtually.

Students are asked to consider the following questions when creating their original art and songs:

• How has disaster and disease shaped art throughout history?

• How has your life changed as a result of COVID-19?

• What does social distancing and quarantine mean to you?

• What has been the most difficult part of this year for you?

• What do you miss most about life before COVID-19?

• What is your hope for the future?

“Throughout his life, my Dad responded to obstacles by creating art,” says Jacques Rodrigue, GRFA’s executive director. “This year’s visual art and songwriting contest entries will serve as a touchstone for the future, showcasing how so many Louisiana students overcame challenges faced during this difficult year. We hope this contest can bring students together through art and song and help rebuild a sense of community that’s been missing during the pandemic.”

ART CONTEST:

All high school juniors and seniors in Louisiana are eligible to apply. Contest judges will select 10 finalists to share $19,000 in college scholarships. All winning entries will then travel on exhibition in multiple cities across the state.

Visual artwork submissions will be judged on the following three criteria:

1. Concept/design: Does the artwork address the theme in a clear and inventive way? (1/3 score)

2. Technical skill: Does the artwork show an understanding of visual art principles such as use of color, shading, light and form? (1/3 score)

3. Creativity: Does the artwork showcase an original point of view? Does it provide a fresh perspective on the theme? (1/3 score)

SONGWRITING CONTEST:

The second annual songwriting contest is open to all Louisiana high school juniors and seniors. A selection of three finalists will share $6,000 in college scholarships and receive additional prizes.

Song submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

1. Structure and composition: Does the song have clearly identifiable sections (verse, chorus, etc.)? Is the song between 2-5 minutes? Does the song have a clear theme and cohesive structure? Does the music have an identifiable rhyme scheme or pattern? (1/3 score)

2. Melody: Does the song have continuity and coherence in melody, as well as tone and style? Does the song offer something unique, different and totally original? Does the music keep the listener interested and engaged? (1/3 score)

3. Lyrics: Are the lyrics creative and original? Do they inspire an emotional or visceral reaction from the listener? Do the music and lyrics fit together in a cohesive way? (1/3 score)

When George Rodrigue was bedridden with polio as a young boy, he used art as a way to express himself and he discovered that he wanted to create art for the rest of his life. After he became a professional artist, Rodrigue continued to use his art as a way to respond to tragedy and disaster.

For example, following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he created “God Bless America” to channel both his and America’s shock and sadness. Also, after Hurricane Katrina, he again turned to his canvas to create “We Will Rise Again,” which echoed the sense that, despite the disaster that occurred, the people would persevere and recover.

Founded by George Rodrigue in 2009, the GRFA Scholarship Arts Contest has received 5,881 submissions and awarded $530,000 in total scholarships to almost 200 students. For more information or to submit your original song or artwork, visit http://georgerodriguefoundation.org/.