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Lincoln High student named finalist for Kaiser Permanente art contest

Dylan Silva ranked within top 20 for unprecedented three years running
By: Mackenzie Myers, Reporter
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Dylan Silva, a Lincoln High School freshman, has once again landed as a finalist for Kaiser Permanente’s Don’t Buy the Lie contest.

Silva, 15, is the first student to do so three years in a row, according to Tamara Wilgus, who manages the contest. The contest has been running for more than 20 years.

Don’t Buy the Lie’s objective is to speak out against teen-aimed nicotine and tobacco advertising, using artwork from middle and high school students in the greater Sacramento area.

This year, 3,700 students from 74 schools entered the contest, according to Wilgus, and each school has a top entry. More than 5,000 public votes chose a middle school grand prize winner and a high school grand prize winner, who each receive $1,000 and have their work displayed on 18 billboards throughout the region for four weeks this summer. 

As of press time, the grand prize winners had not been announced.

Silva won the contest in 2015 and was a finalist last year. As this year’s winning artist from Lincoln High, Silva will receive $50, even if he is not a grand prize winner.

The contest is a good idea, according to Silva, and it supports student artists. 

“I’ve always loved art,” Silva said. “It’s what I’m good at. I like to make people happy with it. It makes me happy and it makes other people happy so it’s kind of a win-win”

Silva described his illustration as “colored pencil and mixed media,” saying that the message matters more than the illustration itself.

His neighbor, Bob, who he has known since age 7, inspired this year’s entry, according to Silva. Bob used to smoke and now has to use an oxygen tank.

“He’s kind of bound to his room. He almost died,” Silva said. “He said he wishes he hadn’t [gone] through that.”

Ray Gonzales, Silva’s former art teacher at Twelve Bridges Middle School, encouraged him to enter the contest three years ago.

Silva was the student who would be waiting at the door every day before school to come in and work on his projects before heading to class, according to Gonzales.

“Every day at lunch, he’d be in my room working and eating, refining his technique,” Gonzales said. “He’d pick up new techniques from me and just refine them, put them to use.”

Over time, Gonzales said, Silva’s drawings took on a photographic quality, to the surprise of classmates.

“But he’s absolutely humble about it,” Gonzales said. “Just a great kid.”

This semester, Silva is taking ceramics and Art II at Lincoln High School. He hopes to start an art club at the school, providing an outlet for students to strengthen their love of illustration, painting, sculpture and other visual work.

“I think more students should be involved with the art program,” Silva said. “It allows you to express yourself without having to use words. Some students have a hard time with that. It allows you to affect others, too.”