July 2018

     It was the July 2016 cover image of Cooperative Living magazine that first caught 9-year-old Anika Karnam’s eye.

     She saw a vibrant image of young Mihika Dusad, the 2016 Best in Show Cooperative Living Youth Art Contest winner, dressed up in ornate costume to perform the classical Indian dance called Kuchipudi.

     “Anika and her younger sister, Samika, saw that cover of the magazine and that’s when they first grew interested in entering their artwork into the magazine’s annual art contest,” says Anika’s mother Sanchita, who along with her husband Raghav, is a resident of Centreville and a member of Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative. “Anika also takes similar dance lessons and so she connected with the theme of the winner’s art as well,” she continues.

     When it came time to put colored pencil to paper and come up with an entry for the magazine’s 2018 contest, Anika knew just what she wanted to draw.

“She wanted to show her love of snorkeling with her art,” explains her mother. Anika has gone snorkeling with her family in St. Lucia, as well as in Barbados. “I love snorkeling and seeing the tropical fish and the corals. In Barbados, we even saw a shipwreck,” she says, excitedly.

     For the 16th-annual version of this contest, students in kindergarten through fifth grade were tasked with the challenge of portraying visual interpretations of the theme, “My favorite summertime activity.” Anika is a rising fourth grader at Centreville Elementary and used colored pencils over a three-week period to create her winning entry, which depicts herself snorkeling among tropical fish and coral.

     The winning entry was chosen from hundreds of colorful entries from students across Virginia. “We’re really proud of her,” says Sanchita. “To have her work selected out of all those entries is an honor.”

     “Our judges knew they had a Best-in-Show winner when they saw Karnam’s detailed submission,” said Cooperative Living Editor Bill Sherrod, who noted that her younger sister was a grade winner in a previous year’s contest.

     More than 200 student artists entered the annual competition, which was judged by staff at the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, publisher of Cooperative Living. First place in each grade category received a $25 cash prize, and Anika’s “Best in Show” work earned her a $100 prize. Anika is also featured on the cover of this issue, holding her winning entry.

     “We started the Youth Art Contest to encourage youthful creativity and give kids a chance to show their art to the magazine’s 1.25 million readers,” said Sherrod. “Everyone who judged the entries was impressed with the imagination and talent shown in the students’ work.”

     A promotional video about this year’s winner, posted on the magazine’s Facebook page in late June, can also be viewed by clicking on the magazine’s YouTube link on the website main page.

Click for Winners from Each Grade

Click for for the list of Honorable Mentions