Worthington News

National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Self-portraits reflect sophomore's talents


In the world of high school arts competitions, George Liu has won the national championship, and he is only a 14-year-old sophomore at Worthington Kilbourne High School.

The award is the gold medal in the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards contest, an achievement so lofty that a Worthington student hadn't before won it.

About 230,000 pieces were entered this year, and only a handful made it to the national level, and even fewer were awarded the gold medal.

George will receive the medal in a ceremony at Carnegie Hall on May 31.

"It's like a really humbling and exciting experience," he said.

It also came as a shock, as he had been told -- erroneously -- that none of his entries had qualified for the national level.

When he was reading through the official list of national winners a few weeks ago, he was surprised to see his name, not to mention that he had won the top award, he said.

"I thought it was a mistake or a joke; it was disorienting," he said.

It was no joke. George's colorful self-portrait has been judged as one of the best in the country. He used colored ink to draw the portrait and then poured water over it to give it a water-color effect. Then he drew on top of that.

The final product looks like George, but it also resembles his father, Jason Liu, the well-known owner of Worthington's J. Liu Restaurant & Bar.

Both Jason and Tina are proud of their son, who excels in several areas. He plays piano, plays on the Worthington Kilbourne varsity tennis team, is active in student council and maintains a 4.0-plus grade-point average.

"He is one of the top students I have seen in 16 years of teaching," Kilbourne art teacher Brian Riegel said. "Nobody knows how he can do all the things he does."

Art is actually a form of relaxation for the young achiever, he said.

"It's an outlet emotionally and creatively," George said. "It is almost like meditation. You get caught up in making art, and time flies by."

George learned to draw and nailed down some basic techniques during lessons at a private home when he was younger. He learned to paint by watching a YouTube video.

With Riegel's encouragement, George learned to loosen up his realistic drawings, to put some emotion into his works.

Now he is experimenting with different media and techniques, staying with one for a few weeks before trying something new.

"I get bored easily," he said.

He is working on a series of self-portraits for his Advanced Placement portfolio. Another recent piece hangs in the Rhodes office tower as Worthington's only entry to be accepted into the governor's art show this year.

His mother said she is proud of her son's accomplishments and of his attitude.

"He is humble and doesn't show off," she said. "He is embarrassed with all of the accolades."