When Erica Kegley went to volunteer at her local art gallery in Augusta to teach kids how to paint, she was not expecting to be introduced to an opportunity that could change her life.
One of her co-volunteers told her about Doodle for Google, a national contest hosted by Google that gives K-12 students the opportunity to create a drawing that could be featured on the Google homepage as a doodle. The contest also includes a $30,000 scholarship for the national winner and $50,000 to the school district of the winner.
Kegley’s doodle was recently selected as Kentucky’s winner, which puts her into the national competition. The 18-year-old senior at Augusta Independent has been actively searching for art-based scholarships to help her attend college to study pre-art therapy at Northern Kentucky University this fall.
Kegley began her artistic journey at a young age when she used art as a coping mechanism during a family tragedy.
“What I loved the most was doodling, so I would start painting,” she said. “And now I’m making it my future.”
Kegley wanted to put her years of practice to the test and enter the Doodle for Google contest. The prompt this year was to artistically describe what you are grateful for.
Kegley has a close relationship with her mother. When growing up, she and her mother faced poverty together. This bond that she has with her mother inspired her to draw different mother-daughter relationships representative of the instinctive bond the two have with each other.
“I am grateful for the relationship with my mom as she helped me to become a confident individual,” she said in her narrative description of the doodle.
Her mother didn’t know that she was Kegley’s muse until Kegley had finished the doodle and showed her.
“She found out and looked at the doodle and said she almost broke down crying,” Kegley said.
Kegley wanted to include a diverse representation of mother-daughter relationships, and she did this by drawing animals and people of different cultures.
“There are all different types of relationships, even through mothers and daughters,” she said. “So, I wanted to show through all cultures, and all through animals and humans, that there are relationships between everything.”
Augusta Independent is a K-12 school with 299 students. Her school is in the small community of Bracken County, which contains 8,439 people.
When asked about being intimidated by coming from a small community and entering a national contest, she said, “I know I had the talent.”
If Kegley were to win, she wants the money awarded to her school district to be invested in art-based resources.
“If they (Augusta Independent) are able, I would want to see us get a certified art teacher because I want future students to have art,” she said.
More details about the contest, including where to vote, can be found on the Doodle for Google contest page. Kegley’s doodle is under the Grades 10-12 section.
Voting will close on May 25 at 9 p.m. ET. Finalists will be announced on May 30 and the winner will be selected on June 6.