Daniela Cortes found inspiration for an art project in an unlikely place: her mother’s closet.
Using acrylics, 16-year-old Cortes painted four pairs of colorful, vibrant cowboy boots, an ode to her mother’s love of Western fashion.
Cortes’ piece, Heels and Jewelry, was named grand champion Saturday at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo’s Star-Telegram Art Contest. Cortes received a $3,000 scholarship.
“I can’t believe it,” Cortes, a junior at Granbury High School, said moments after winning. “I’m overwhelmed and shocked.”
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The reserve grand champion went to Sohara Zafar, 17, a senior at Sam Rayburn High School in the Pasadena school district near Houston, who used black and white pencils to draw The Gathering, a herd of horses.
Young artists were tasked with creating Western art that represents or expresses the spirit of the Stock Show or North American Western culture, with works ranging from farmscapes to depictions of the Fort Worth Stockyards.
This year’s competition received 1,259 entries from students ages 5 to 18, and winners won more than $20,000 in scholarships.
Cortes’ teacher, Mike Tabor, who won the high school teacher award, has worked with students for years to enter the competition.
“I was raised around the Stock Show. It was a big deal to my family,” Tabor said. “So when I started teaching art I knew I wanted to get the kids involved.”
Catherine Vest, 17, a student at Arlington Heights High School, won the 3-D art competition for her creation of a Fort Worth cattle drive. Vest used various metals, including copper, nickel and silver, to depict the cattle drive, which she said is one of the city’s most recognizable scenes.
“This is what tourists see when they think Fort Worth,” Vest said. “Everyone knows the cattle drive.”
Cortes, who spent about a month painting Heels and Jewelry, said she wants to be a high school art teacher. Her twin sister, Gabriella Cortes, also placed in the art contest.
On Saturday, the sisters embraced and cried. Their mother, Ileana Alvarado, said they were nervous Saturday morning.
“I’m so proud,” she said. “We didn’t expect this today.”