What Is Originality?

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ImageIn starting the art contest in 2010, we have learned a lot about issues that we did not think would arise.  Each student is asked to send in an original work of art. But what does that exactly mean?  We have many teachers who have their students enter collages with images that come from other sources.  In these cases, the compilation of the images into an original form is the student’s creation.  However, as the original images are not the students,  we cannot have a contest winner or include in the book, an image that is copyrighted elsewhere.

We have also encountered students who will take a work such as “Starry Night” by Van Gogh and put their own interpretation onto the image.  If the image is now in public domain, then this is allowed if the student gives the original artist credit.  However, when an image is an exact copy then this is a greater challenge.  When a student sees a painting and then tries to make an exact copy, the work of putting the paint to the canvas is done by the student, but the work or imagination in creating the work is not.

We cannot be aware of every image.  Our official policy is that we love to see the work conceptualized by the student.  A work in the public domain can act as a starting point, but we hope the student will take it from there and add their own style to the piece.

To learn more about our national art contests, please visit www.CelebratingArt.com.

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