Area students honored for artwork in Scholastic Art Competition Exhibit

Release Date: January 28, 2009    

PLAINVIEW – Four South Plains area students were honored with the American Vision Award for the West Texas Regional Scholastic Art Competition, held recently on the campus of Wayland Baptist University. Those works and approximately 600 others will be on display in the Abraham Art Gallery on campus through Feb. 14.

Erica Pace, a senior at Frenship High School in Wolfforth, earned two awards for her drawings, one for a three-piece set titled “Nature in Motion,” and one called “Colors of Life.” Eric Simpson, a senior at Shallowater High School, earned one for his mixed media piece titled “Inspiration.” Two sophomores, Matthew Dohm of Brownfield and Lance Hernandez, earned American Vision Awards for their work. Dohm earned his award for a drawing titled “Sir Kilian,” while Hernandez contributed a ceramic sculpture titled “Clumsy Man.”

The American Vision designation is the highest award at the regional level of the competition, and one of the five works is guaranteed a place at the national exhibit held at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. In addition, the students are able to submit their portfolios of work for consideration for scholarships toward their college education.

The works first earned Gold Keys in the rapid-fire judging process held Monday, Jan. 19 on the WBU campus, where a panel of three judges viewed each of the 1,000-plus pieces that are entered from schools all over the region. The top 110 – labeled Gold Keys – are then judged to determine the top five for American Vision honors. Another 200 approximately are chosen as Silver Keys, while another 300 or so are selected as Honorable Mention.

Judges were impressed with the caliber of work, especially for the younger students.

“The works showed great passion and skill, and I was astonished with the maturity of the Junior High submissions in particular,” said Curt Finger, a graphic artist with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center who served as judge. “The overall quality of artwork was very high, which made our choices rather difficult. Ultimately the choices came down to those pieces that stood out by showing unique approaches, strong emotional connections with the viewer or exceptional skill.”

Judge Tom Hicks, a ceramic artist, echoed Finger’s sentiments, adding that the competition was encouraging from a social standpoint as well.

“I had been worried that art had become neglected in our schools (probably with some reason) but this art was just great,” he said.

Judge David Rindlisbacher, professor of art at West Texas A&M University, share the other judges’ thoughts about the quality of work from younger participants, and he added some constructive comments for artists in terms of contrast, mounting and including artists’ statements or backgrounding on pieces to further clarify the goal of the artwork.

“I felt on the whole that the show evidenced higher levels of skill than I’d generally expect at the relative age levels. From Junior High on up, I found myself seeing work that would compare favorably with much university-level art product,” Rindlisbacher said. “Craftsmanship was generally of very high quality, with care evidenced in the making, storing, preparing, and presenting the works.”

All Gold Key pieces are sent to the national competition for further judging and many have the opportunity to be displayed in the national exhibit in Washington, D.C., alongside the American Vision winners.

In addition, students may submit their portfolios of eight pieces of work to be considered for college scholarships. Those chosen for Gold Keys will continue to the national competition. Keller said five of those portfolio artists were selected to receive $1,000 renewable scholarships at Wayland to study in the visual art department. Those include Julie Fisher, Bobby Carol McLane and Keely Brock, all of Monterey High School, Eric Ladd of Frenship High School, and Eric Simpson of Shallowater High School. Other Gold Key portfolios were awarded to Kate Noble of Frenship High and Gary Skinner, Sarai Sabinas and Erica Nieblas, all of Monterey High. Two Shallowater High seniors, Chance Dempsey and Amy White, earned Gold Keys for their photography portfolios as well.

The work in those three categories make up the exhibit that will be on display Abraham Gallery, located in the lower level of the Mabee Learning Resources Center on the Wayland campus. Schools are encouraged to bring groups of students to the gallery to view all the pieces on display. The exhibit includes work from varied categories, from traditional paintings and drawings to sculptures, mixed media, jewelry and digital photography and design.

In its 12th year on the Wayland campus, the Scholastic show represents the most creative work from high school and junior high students around the region, which encompasses 14 counties and includes such cities as Post and Denver City, Muleshoe to the west and north to Dimmitt.

The Abraham Gallery exhibit is free and open to the public during regular gallery hours: 10-5 Monday through Thursday, 10-4 Friday and 2-5 Saturday. For more information, contact the gallery at (806) 291-3710.