VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Ninth-grader and Doodle for Google finalist Niu Niu Zhang has a strong message for people voting on her artwork.
“I want them to remember that reading is really important and you can learn a lot from it,” Zhang said. “Reading is super important and it’s super fun and you should do it when you can.”
“Reading Daydream” is the name of Zhang’s Google Doodle artwork being featured by Google. You can vote on the artwork on the Google Doodles page under the grades 8-9 group until midnight Friday. The National Winner’s artwork will be displayed on Google.com for one day and receive a $30,000 college scholarship. Zhang’s art is South Dakota’s entry, competing against art from 54 states and territories.
This year’s theme was “I am strong because…” and artists needed to draw something that makes them strong.
“All my life, I’ve really liked reading and reading has been a crutch I’ve leaned on for a really long time,” Zhang said. “I drew a person and they were surrounded by a bunch of storybook characters, because we can all really learn from stories.”
Zhang, a Vermillion High School student, said the artwork took her two days to complete. She first drew the sketch and then painted it with watercolors. The letters G-O-O-G-L-E blend in with green fantasy swirls tied in with pictures of classic fables — like ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’
“After I was finished I was pretty proud of it,” Zhang said. “The longer I waited, the more unsure I got.”
That was until last weekend, when her dad told her to plan to get dressed for family photos on Saturday. After she got ready, Zhang noticed a man at her front door with a Google T-shirt. He informed her she was a Google Doodle finalist and led her to a surprise party in her garage.
“I think it’s pretty cool. It’s cool representing my whole state,” Zhang said. “I really like art and I don’t think I’ll ever stop making art.”