In a world torn by wars, prejudices and inequality, hope and a beacon of light have arrived. This time, it came in the form of this year’s Doodle 4 Google contest winner. The 10th grader stands proud of who she is, and it shows in her actions of paying tribute to her African heritage and Afrocentric lifestyle through artwork.
“My goal with my art was to not only turn heads but souls as well — not only for someone to see it and be amazed by it but also to have them understand and connect with it.” That was the statement Akilah Johnson made regarding her winning art piece. This 15-year-old high school student, who wanted people to be able to connect to her drawing, has just been declared as the winner of Google’s doodling contest 2016, reports Search Engine Land.
Johnson is the first contest winner from Washington D.C eligible to join the states-only contest in the past years. The contest, which was held yearly for eight years already, had the theme “What makes me… me” for this year. According to Google it has received 100,000 entries from students of 50 states of the United States of America as well as from Puerto Rico, Guam and Washington D.C.
Among these entries, five finalists were chosen. These finalists were then invited to the tech giant’s Mountain View, California campus for a day of workshops with the doodle team and guest judges’ astronaut Yvonne Cagle and animator Glen Keane, reports WUSA 9.
For this year’s winning Doodle 4 Google piece entitled “My Afrocentric Life,” Johnson’s art included symbols of black heritage and signs representing the “Black Lives Matter” movement. She used color pencils, black crayons and Sharpie markers to make her thought-provoking artwork. Her piece she says is inspired her lifestyle and what she has grown to be.
She told The Washington Post that she was raised in the “Afrocentrc lifestyle,” having studied in educational institutions in Northern Washington that have “culturally relevant curriculum” and an aim to serve “specific needs of children of African heritage.”
Johnson has mentioned that “As I grew older, I … realized that the black people [who] came before us … made us into what we are today, so of course I had to include them in some way.” Her statements was also written on a Google blog as a guest blogger. On her blog, she has also explained her doodle as the representation of the six most special things for her.
These things, she explains, are the Symbol of Life – the ankh; the African continent – where everything began for her and her ancestors; the Eye of Horus; the word “power” which she has drawn in black; the woman’s fist based on one of her favorite artist’s works; and the D.C. flag – “because I’m a Washingtonian at heart and I love my city with everything in me!”
The 15-year-old also said she has always been encouraged to pursue art, especially by her teachers Baba Camera of Roots and Zalika Perkins, her current art teacher. However, it is when she has participated in the recently concluded Google contest that she says gave her “an understanding of why art matters” and why her art matters.
That is “because it speaks to people. No matter our differences, everyone is touched by art in some way. Winning this competition opened my eyes to the many types of art and the many ways it can resonate with people. I’m excited to keep creating art that matters.”
Aside from having her art featured in Google’s homepage, Johnson is set to receive a $30,000 USD college scholarship grant. Additionally, a total of $50, 000 USD of Education grant will also be given to her school, Eastern Senior High School, which will give technology resources for the institution’s teachers and students reports Mashable.
Also Read: Google Urges US Government To Move Faster
For more technology news, you can subscribe to our newsletter. If you are a social media junkie and would like to receive updates on your timeline, then you can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.