By Stephanie Meditz
For the first time, a student from The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica won a Scholastic Award for film and animation.
Sophomore art major Eliza Pikulinski earned a Silver Key for her piece, “Awestruck.”
The animation is roughly a minute long, and it follows a girl in an art gallery who falls in love with a painting and literally enters its world.
“She’s so awestruck by this artwork that she feels like she can almost step into it, and she does,” Pikulinski said. “She goes into this painting, and she’s transported to this world, which is now 3D, and it’s full of flowers and a night sky and stars.”
Pikulinski’s inspiration for this piece was the transformative effect that art often has on its viewer.
“When you see a beautiful art piece, you are just so taken aback by it, sometimes,” she said.
Although she has never taken a class in animation before, Pikulinski thinks that her drawing skills helped her with the animation.
“There’s a lot of similarities, actually. I think you get better at 2D when you work in 3D and vice versa,” she said. “A lot of lessons I learned in 3D, I use in 2D drawings on paper, and it was just all around pretty interesting to see how they compare.”
“I taught myself how to use the programs, and so I wanted to just kind of use the skills that I had to create animation,” she continued. “It was a really lengthy process. I worked for over two months every day after school from my computer. A lot of technical problems, a lot of creative challenges I had, but I’m very happy with the way it turned out.”
In addition to her work as an art major, Pikulinski is learning coding and computer programming.
She was recently recruited to be a designer for TMLA’s robotics team, the Steampunk Penguins.
“I kind of dream of working someplace like Pixar or Disney making full-length animations one day,” she said.
TMLA art teacher Kathleen Lynch could not be prouder of Eliza and her self-motivated work, especially as a sophomore.
“For a sophomore to win is not a very common thing because it’s across every high school in the region. Usually, it’s juniors and seniors,” she said.“Everything that she did, she did on her own.”
During her two years teaching drawing, digital art and AP art history at TMLA, Lynch has worked with many talented students.
“I am constantly in awe of them, every single day,” she said. “I am very lucky, my kids are awesome. It makes it very easy getting up and going to work in the morning…they’re so passionate, and they’re so creative in ways that are so surprising, honestly.”
Lynch told her students to come up with their own projects to submit to the Scholastic Awards, and she was delighted by their dedication and initiative.
Several other TMLA students won Scholastic Awards – Alina Charles and Fiona Sheahan won Silver Keys in drawing and illustration, and Hanna Vojar won a Silver Key for mixed media.
Charles and Sheahan received honorable mentions for their other works, as did Ciara Davila, Dalia O’Keeffe and Ariana Tolentino.
Pikulinski is honored to represent TMLA for the first time in the film and animation category.
“It means a lot. I didn’t think I would be the first. I didn’t think that I would ever win anything, to be honest,” she said. “I was very surprised to see all the reactions to the projects, since they’re something that I always loved doing.”