Savannah artist foreshadows discovery of terrorist
An elite team of Navy SEALs had already assembled for last month's raid on the Pakistani hideout of Osama bin Laden as art students gathered at Savannah's Forsyth Park to participate in SCAD's 30th Annual Sidewalk Arts Festival. Of course, Nicolas Vargas, a junior at Groves High School, had no way of knowing that these soldiers were converging on America's Most Wanted criminal when he made the decision to create a chalk drawing of the turbaned terrorist raising his hands in surrender.
It was a happy coincidence that spotlighted Vargas' talents as a graphic artist and landed the 18-year-old native of Cali, Colombia in the national news. Judges for the event gave his depiction an honorable mention in the prospective student category.
“When I got to school on Monday, everyone was asking me how did I know that was going to happen,” Vargas said. “ But this sketch wasn't even my first choice. I wanted to draw a human skull with gears in the place of brains but the SCAD officials told me it was too large so I had to choose another design.”
Vargas, who hopes to win a SCAD scholarship after he graduates from high school next year, credits two different sources for his interest in art.
“When I was in middle school in Cali, I got lots of encouragement from my art teacher,” he said. “She taught me everything and I just kept improving. Also, my Mom's parents were both very good craftsmen. They created lots of beautiful things like candlesticks and I was always liked to watch them work.”
Vargas said his mother moved to the US from Colombia 8 years ago after she and his father divorced. He and his sister, Maria, who is also a talented artist, arrived in Savannah three years ago.
“I was 10-years old when she left and I missed her very much,” he said. “She was finally able to bring us here and we like living in Savannah but we also miss my father in Cali.”
Vargas said that pen and ink is his favorite medium.
“Art has always been my passion,” he said. “I see it as a way to get out of reality and create my own little world. This was my first experience using chalk on a sidewalk and it was a real challenge.The chalk dust is very hard to control. You blow it away and it just comes back and settles on everything.”
A review of Vargas' portfolio shows a decided preference for intricate and detailed drawings.
“For me, careful technique and original ideas are both important but the detail is most important,” he said. “That's why I prefer pen and ink. It gives me control over the work.”
Vargas said it's too early to decide what he would major in if he were accepted at SCAD, but the Osama drawing was not the first time his talents as an artist have been recognized.
Groves art teacher, Catriona Schaefer, who calls herself one of Nicolas' biggest fans, said that his work has been showcased both locally and statewide.
Recent showings include the following:
1) A Journey Through my Mind, Marker, 8" x 12". Exhibited in The New Beginning Art Exhibition at S.P.A.C.E Gallery, Savannah, February 2011.
2) Alas Poor Yorick, Marker, 8" x 12". Honorable Mention, 2011 Congressional High School Juried Art Exhibition, Armstrong Atlantic State University, February 2011. Selected for the Kennesaw State Juried All State Art Symposium Exhibition and Exhibition Catalog, Spring 2011.
3) Pumpkin, Mixed Media, 11"x 14", 3rd Place Jury Award, Young Artist Showcase, Desotorow Gallery, Savannah, December 2010. Selected for Congressional High School Juried Art Exhibition, Armstrong Atlantic State University, February 2011.