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Georgia Schill is working on an independent AP art program with a concentration on people and relationships and how they have impacted her life. Her current painting is a picture of her brother and cousin. On left, Schill's award-winning piece “Insomnia” has garnered national accolades. (Ryan O'Connor / Union Leader correspondent)

Goffstown teen turns struggle with insomnia into award-winning art

GOFFSTOWN — Goffstown High School sophomore Georgia Schill was struggling with sleep. So much so, in fact, that she decided to express her struggle the best way she knew how.

Through art.

Using a medium she had never used for a prior project, Schill created a self portrait that she titled “Insomnia.” At the time, she had no idea the drawing would generate any recognition, let alone national accolades. Yet, that is exactly what has happened for the 15-year-old standout.

The piece not only earned her one of 26 National Gold Medals from the National Scholastic Art Awards, but Schill has also earned the AmericanVision award for most outstanding art work of any student from New Hampshire.

She’ll attend a two-day awards celebration in New York City on June 6-7, and will receive her Gold Medal and American Vision accolades on stage at Carnegie Hall.

Schill ‘s high school teacher, Ava-lyn Lane, said Schill’s piece was chosen from a pool of nearly 350,000 drawing submissions nationwide.

Before reaching the national competition, Schill was selected as a regional Gold Key winner from a panel of three judges, said Lane.

“It’s a very small percentage of students who are actually recognized at the national level,” she said. “It’s sort of like the Olympics, where it’s elimination after elimination to get where she has.”

But the process was born out of frustration and fatigue.

“It’s something I’ve been dealing with my whole life,” said Schill. “So I wanted to create this self portrait that not only looked like me, but captured these really strong emotions and feelings of tiredness. It’s so heavy and difficult to even function because you’re so tired.”

Taking into consideration the reality that Schill had never completed a project with copic markers prior to her creation of “Insomnia” makes the accomplishment all the more impressive, said Lane.

“It was really an exquisite handling of the marker and the application of the marker on the surface that she worked on,” she said. “But I think the biggest piece is that she captured that feeling and emotion, and it’s a piece that’s reflective of herself. You can really identify with the image when you see the title.”

Schill not only picked the subject matter, but she took full control of the process with little oversight and advice from Lane and fellow students.

“Really, she delved into this full tilt, I would say 95 percent on her own,” said Lane.

Schill said she had been experimenting with copic markers in her sketch book, but tackling a project like “Insomnia” was a first for her.

“I really wanted to push myself and learn more, so I went online and ordered a bunch of markers and as soon as they came in I did this drawing, and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to,” she said. “I think the movement with the markers played an important part of expressing my emotion in the piece because you can see the anxiety in the lines and the contrasting colors and stuff.”

Schill now finds herself in a select class. Past Gold Medal winners include notable artists such as Andy Warhol and John Baldessari, whose work has influenced the course of art history worldwide, according to Lane.

“She’s only a sophomore, so she is competing against juniors and seniors as well,” said Lane. “The sophistication on her work is unusual for her age, and she has that passion and drive to keep moving forward.”

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