Story last updated at 1/14/2009 - 10:38 am
ANCHORAGE - What does "The Spirit of Alaska" mean to you? Alaska Airlines posed this question to students from all over the state in the recent "Paint the Plane" contest, part of the celebration for the 50th anniversary of statehood. Students in grades K-12 were challenged to interpret the given theme into a drawing, with the winner's drawing to be painted on one of the 737-400s in the airline's fleet.
The winning design, announced Jan. 3, is by Hannah Hamberg, a junior at Sitka High School.
Hamberg's design features a phrase, "We're all pulling together," along with images that she said represent the many different regions of Alaska. She included a sled dog musher being pulled by a dog, a whale, a state ferry, a bear and a rowboat.
"I was inspired by the way that Alaskans work together and help each other, and I thought the saying went well with the idea of all the different Alaskan objects pulling the musher," Hamberg said. "I started off by brainstorming a long list of things I thought really represented the state Later I thought that the sled dog idea would be good because of the shape of the plane. I decided to replace the dogs with objects that would represent all different parts of Alaska to really represent the 'spirit' of Alaska."
Hamberg said she has enjoyed art since she was young, perhaps influenced by her father's landscape architecture sketches. She is also a dancer, cheerleader, National Honor Society member and class vice president.
The competition was judged by a variety of individuals who Alaska Airlines felt were instrumental in shaping the "Spirit of Alaska." Artists Byron Birdsall and Mark Boyle, former governors Walter J. Hickel and William J. Sheffield, and dog musher DeeDee Jonrowe were among the ten judges charged with choosing the best design. They judged the designs on originality, creativity, and the best interpretation of the theme.
Artist Mark Boyle was commissioned to design the "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon" plane, which he described as "the job of a lifetime." He said what stood out to him about Hamberg's design was its simplicity and balance.
"It was a lot of fun to partake in the judging," Boyle said. "There were so many good designs so it was really difficult to choose."
Michael Tarbert of Palmer was the grade 12 runner-up. His design featured several Alaskan flora and fauna items and a grand view of Mt. McKinley. Along with Hamberg and the other runners-up, he won a trip to Disneyland, which he said he plans to take after the school year is over.
"It was more of an inspiration for me to enter the paint the plane contest, just kind of an experiment to see if I could come up with anything," Tarbert said. "I had a blast designing a plane and taking part in the celebration, and I'm very excited about winning a trip to Disneyland."
Tarbert also expressed excitement for Hamberg's design.
"She did a clever job incorporating the culture, life, and adventure of Alaska in her design," Tarbert said. "Plus, her slogan ... was very well said, implying that Alaska and its citizens are pushing toward the future."
Hamberg said that before winning the contest she had thoughts of going into the medical or dental field, but now she is considering the possibilities of a career in art, perhaps in cartooning, her favorite style. She will participate in a program at the Rhode Island School of Design this summer, where she said she hopes to learn more about art and its history and meet fun, interesting people.
"This experience has really showed me where it could take me," Hamberg said.