The Californian

Zoe Medlin’s art displayed in D.C.

Cal+High+junior+Zoe+Medlin%27s+painting+%22Look+Me+in+the+Face%22+%28left%29+is+currently+on+display+in+Washington%2C+D.C.%2C+after+she+won+Eric+Swalwell%27s+Congressional+Art+Competition.
Cal High junior Zoe Medlin's painting

Cal High junior Zoe Medlin's painting "Look Me in the Face" (left) is currently on display in Washington, D.C., after she won Eric Swalwell's Congressional Art Competition.

Nikhita Dharmaitr

Nikhita Dharmaitr

Cal High junior Zoe Medlin's painting "Look Me in the Face" (left) is currently on display in Washington, D.C., after she won Eric Swalwell's Congressional Art Competition.

Maira Nigaar, Staff Writer

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Vibrant colors fill junior Zoe Alyse Medlin’s world as she paints her life, one stroke at a time. 

Medlin, a self-taught artist who takes her passion for art outside of school, regularly creates paintings that are representative of ideas or experiences that interest her.   

Last year, as a sophomore, Medlin worked tirelessly for weeks on a painting now known as “Look Me in the Face.”

Of nearly 60 submitted pieces, Medlin’s painting won first place in the Eric Swalwell’s Congressional Art Competition, hosted at the Dublin Civic Center in April. 

The painting is now displayed in Cannon Tunnel in Washington, D.C.

“Look Me in the Face” is a self-portrait displaying a young woman with a bag over her head, symbolizing the countless women in the world who desire to be seen and heard. 

Medlin learned about the competition through her art teacher, Michelle Traynor-Stephanos, and decided to participate.

“She is very committed to art, especially having had some success in recent years winning a few competitions,” said Medlin’s mother, Terry Medlin. 

Her journey through painting, however, has been challenged at times by her illness.

Medlin’s condition is widely known only as an auto-immune disorder, but it is rare and has no name. This condition can make anyone allergic to any type of food or develop an allergy to them eventually. 

“I can have apples, because I haven’t developed an allergy to that, but other than apples and water, I can’t eat anything through my mouth,” said Medlin. 

Instead, she uses a feeding tube that goes into her small intestine which gives her a hypoallergenic formula, on which she survives. 

In addition, Medlin experiences nausea fairly easily and often. Currently, doctors have no definitive understanding of her unexpected nausea, and as a result they have not been able diagnose its cause.. 

Because of her nausea, Medlin often feels ill and is unable to attend more than a single class a day. 

During the time of the competition, Medlin’s illness made her reluctant to work on her painting, but her desire to enter the contest overpowered any physical obstacles.   

“In a way, it would slow her down because there were times where she didn’t feel well enough to work,” Terry Medlin said. “And of course, she had to balance keeping up with her school work as well.” 

Despite this, Medlin is determined to not let it hold her back.

When Medlin speaks of her disorder, she utilizes the opportunity to inspire others with a disability to pursue their dreams.

“If you have a disability, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up just like everybody else,” Medlin said. “But you’ll probably have to work harder.” 

Her determination has allowed her to overcome other struggles, especially those that she encounters in her art.

Ever since Medlin’s had first created light-hearted sketches of Disney characters, her interest in art had started to flourish.  

She decided to pursue her passion and drew inspiration from the works of Paul Cézanne, a French artist and post-impressionist painter, as well as the realistic depictions of Michael James Smith Art on YouTube. 

As a self-taught artist, Medlin had initially experienced difficulties in learning composition, color theory, and special techniques often taught by trained teachers. 

But after practicing and utilizing guidance and instruction from YouTube, Medlin was able to sharpen her artistic skills.

She had also experienced personal struggles throughout the creation of her art pieces.   

Medlin’s friends said she needed emotional support during the creation of “Look Me in the Face,” as she would often question why she decided to participate in competitions to begin with.

“She was doubting herself in terms of winning the competition because she knew there were a lot of other good artists that were entering,” said juniors Stephanie Pratt and Brogann Adams-Hart. “We were there to lift herself back up.”

Now as a junior, Medlin reflects back on her experiences and believes that she has accomplished much beyond her own expectations.

“I could never have imagined myself doing the painting that won the contest,” Medlin said. “I never thought I would have been able to do that.” 

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Zoe Medlin’s art displayed in D.C.