Budding artist wins Best In Show
by Laura Emery, Deputy Editor
Dahee “Diana” Baek, daughter of Hyunsoo “Henney” Baek and Amy Yang, won Best In Show in the 21st annual Cooperative Living Youth Art Contest. Her winning submission was a beautifully painted picture of a basket of freshly picked red tulips sitting on a chair, with a person seen through an open door tending to more tulips in the yard.
For the 2023 contest, students in kindergarten through fifth grade were tasked with the challenge of portraying visual interpretations of the theme, “Oh, How We Grow!”
Student-artists from all over Virginia and Maryland entered the competition, which was judged by eventgoers at the Gaff-n-Go Lineworker Rodeo in Doswell, Va., held in May.
First place in each grade category received a $25 cash prize, while Diana’s Best In Show work earned her a $100 prize. When asked what she plans to spend her winnings on, Diana jokingly says, “My sister and my mom keep asking me to buy something for them. But I haven’t decided yet.”
Diana moved with her parents, older brother Shinhee and younger sister Ivy to the United States just a few years ago from South Korea.
“South Korea is a beautiful country, full of great music, food, natural areas and, most importantly, great people,” Henney says. “It has been a great adventure for our entire family because, before the immigration, all of our family members were comfortable. But we wanted to learn something else and grow more. Becoming a family that serves and helps others in need is our family’s vision.”
Diana is a rising sixth grader in Fairfax, Va. The 12-year-old created her winning art while in an art studio. “I go to the studio every Thursday and spend around two hours every time I go there. I finished the art in about three or four weeks,” Diana says. She used pencil to sketch it out and then used paint to fill it in with color.
When she’s not focusing on being a good student, Diana loves to water plants, read books, draw and listen to music—especially K-pop. Her favorite subjects in school are science and art. “I like art because you can create something — and science, because I think it’s really fun to learn how the world works and how things work,” she says.
Diana says her “jaw dropped” when her mother told her she’d won Best In Show honors in the competition. “I knew my painting was good and I really liked it, but I did not expect that I would win the contest,” she says. “I was so happy. I’m glad that so many people liked my painting. I am so proud of myself.”
Henney says his daughter’s goodness blooms from within. “We are very proud of her. Diana is a really good girl. She is always speaking with warm and kind words, and she is considerate of others’ feelings. She cares for her little sister, her friends and all others around her. She also cares for nature a lot — animals, plants and flowers,” he says.
Cooperative Living started the youth art contest in 2003 to encourage youthful creativity and give kids a chance to display their talents to the magazine’s 1.7 million readers. Executive Editor Gregg MacDonald says the members of the public who voted in the competition were very impressed with the imagination and talent in this year’s contest.
He adds, “To all of our contestants in this year’s contest, thank you for your effort, your interest and your entries. We say it each year and we’ll say it yet again: In our eyes, you’re all winners!”
KINDERGARTEN — 2ND GRADE WINNERS:
2nd – Johan Ma, Ashburn, Va., 1st grade
3RD GRADE — 5TH GRADE WINNERS:
Aaran Dubey, Abi Fogle, Abigail Knight, Abigail Smith, Adriana Lee, Aiden Law, Alexis Purkiss, Allison Mucino, Amanda Knight, Amelia Norkelun, Ananya Bhatia, Anayiah Mehta, AnneMarie Tate, Aubrey Custer, Aubrey Juby, Avery McPherson, Benjamin Mucino, Braxton Hudson, Campbell Frank, Caroline Cornwell, Cecilia Wunsch, Charlotte Hill, Chloe Smith, Elsie Lamb, Emilia Ovando, Emily Juby, Emma Kronberg, Evelyn Tsepas, Ezra Davis, Grace Vaughn, Harper Davis, Haven Maisel, Hope Maisel, Isarah Garcia, Jeffffrey McCormack Jr., Jeremiah Bittler, Kameron Middleton, Kathryn Bittler, Kelly Moseley, Kensie Foster, Kerri Moseley, King James Townsend, Leah Bourne, Leo Dunning, Lilah Norman, Logan Cornwell, Lydia Wunsch, Mackenzie Whittemore, Macy Swisher, Marilyn Rodriguez, Mickie Dobbins, Nadia Exantus, Oliver Mucino, Olivia Purkiss, Patrick Zebrowski, Peyton Walker, Rosalie Dobbins, Rosemary Havlovick, Rylee Enochs, Samika Desai, Samvid Kannekanti, Sanvitha Kolakalapudi, Savya Kannekanti, Sofifiah Paras, Tracey Edmonds, Tucker Frank, Tyson Enochs, Venus Cross, Watson Bracewell, Weston Hollender, Yashwanth Mandalapu.