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The George Rodrigue Foundation Announces Theme for 2023 Scholarship Contest

October 5, 2022 (NEW ORLEANS, La.) – Press Release – The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts (GRFA) in partnership with the Trombone Shorty Foundation announced today the theme for the 2023 Visual Arts and Songwriting Contest – “Off the Beaten Path: Weird, Wild and Abstract.”

Louisiana high school juniors and seniors are encouraged to think outside the box to create works of art and songs that push creative boundaries. The 2023 contest winners will share $25,000 in college scholarships – in addition, visual art winners’ pieces will tour on exhibition across Louisiana (Summer + Fall 2023), while the first-place songwriting winner will have the opportunity to perform at the Trombone Shorty Foundation’s annual fundraiser, Shorty Fest, next May.

Visual art and song submission applications are now open at www.rodriguefoundation.org. The deadline for entry submission is Friday, January 20, 2023.

“Dad loved expressing himself through his abstract, out-of-this-world creations. We can’t wait to see how students choose to interpret this year’s theme and showcase their creativity through innovative works of art and song,” said Jacques Rodrigue, Executive Director of GRFA.

“Since the inception of the visual arts contest, our foundation has awarded $580,000 in scholarships to 233 students. Now, with the expansion of the songwriting contest in its fourth year, we look forward to continuing to provide additional academic and creative opportunities for students.”

“We love this theme!” said Bill Taylor, Founding Executive Director of the Trombone Shorty Foundation.

“Every year, we are blown away by the inspiration and creativity the students of Louisiana demonstrate for this contest, and this year will undoubtedly yield some epic submissions. We can’t wait to see what you come up with, young artists and songwriters!” – Bill Taylor

Artist George Rodrigue is best known for his Cajun landscapes and the famous Blue Dog, but he also dabbled in the surreal and abstract. His Hurricane Series from the early 2000s uses swirling shapes and colors to convey emotion, rather than using traditional figures or styles. “The Bayou Collection” (1984) is a collection of 40 paintings that all illustrate Cajun ghost stories using strange and surreal imagery.

One of the most noteworthy paintings within this collection is Watch Dog, also known as the first Blue Dog ever created by Rodrigue. The wild and surreal notion that dogs could be blue started a whole new trend in Rodrigue’s work and gave birth to the famous Blue Dog imagery we all know today. Rodrigue continued to use the Blue Dog symbol throughout his work, often placing it within environments where it would not normally exist. In his painting The Millennium (1999), he uses the Blue Dog along with butterflies, an Egyptian figure, and a Viking ship to celebrate creativity and art, and commemorate the dawn of the new millennium.

The 2023 visual arts and songwriting contest ask students to dismiss classic themes and notions to create something unique and thought-provoking. There are no limits on what the subject matter can be – students are encouraged to use their creativity and imagination and venture “off the beaten path” of traditional art making. We ask students to use a selection of Rodrigue’s works of art and concepts as inspiration to create their own works of weird, wild, and abstract art and music.

Details About the Visual Arts Competition

All high school juniors and seniors in the state of Louisiana are eligible to apply. Contest judges will select 10 finalists (5 juniors/5 seniors) to share $19,000 in college scholarships. Following the Scholarship Awards Luncheon (date TBD), the winning entries will tour on exhibition across Louisiana.

4th Place Senior – $2,000 “Meredith Meets Mudbug” Mary-Evelyn King Glenbrook School, Minden
1st Place Senior – $5,000 “Fresher Than Expected” Callan Thornton West Monroe High School, West Monroe
Individual artwork will be judged on the following three criteria:
  • Concept/Design: Does the artwork address the theme in a clear and inventive way? (1/3 score)
  • Technical Skill: Does the artwork show an understanding of visual art principles such as the use of color, shading, light, and form? (1/3 score)
  • Creativity: Does the artwork showcase an original point of view? Does it provide a fresh perspective on the theme? (1/3 score)

Details About the Songwriting Competition

All high school juniors and seniors in the state of Louisiana are eligible to apply. A selection of three finalists will share $6,000 in college scholarships. Following the Scholarship Awards Luncheon (date TBD), the first-place winner will have the opportunity to perform during the Trombone Shorty Foundation’s annual fundraiser, Shorty Fest next May.

Song submissions will be judged on the following criteria:

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)

For more information on GRFA’s 2023 Art/Songwriting contest, please visit www.rodriguefoundation.org

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