Mint Hill Arts 13th Annual Student Art Show

The gallery was packed for Friday's Opening Reception
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Crowds spilled out into the parking lot leading up to the announcement of the winners
Crowds spilled out into the parking lot leading up to the announcement of the winners

MINT HILL, NC – On Friday, March 4, Mint Hill Arts was packed for the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony for its thirteenth annual Student Art Show.  The gallery’s biggest show of the year offers Mint Hill’s students the unique opportunity to show their original artwork in a real and vibrant gallery.

The 2022 Student Show features close to 100 entries from 20 different area middle and high schools as well as entries from homeschooled students.  About half of the entries came from Mecklenburg County; the remainder came from Union, Cabarrus and York Counties.  55% of the pieces came from students enrolled in public schools, including 2 charter schools.  25% came from private schools, and 20% of entrants were homeschooled.  

The student show was judged once again by master pastelist Kurt Weiser, who has been painting and judging for over 15 years.  Weiser was impressed by the multitude of talent on display at Mint Hill Arts and remarked on the artists’ brave willingness to experiment, combining different mediums in a way that offers a truly unique result.  

Previously open to students in grades kindergarten through twelve, this year’s show welcomed submissions form all area public, private and homeschooled students in grades six through twelve.  In past years, only high school work was judged; this year five winners were selected from the middle school category in addition to seven from the high school category.  As in past years, winners form the high school category received cash prizes courtesy of Robinson Orthodontics.  

The highlight of Friday’s Opening Reception was the announcement of the contest winners.  In the middle school category, honorable mentions went to Veronica Wendt (Socrates Academy) for her acrylic painting “Fish” and to home-schooled and self-taught artist Elizabeth Bryan for her graphite pencil drawing “First Kiss.”  

Michaila Harris and "Butin."
Michaila Harris and “Butin.” Photo by John Lindenman.

Michaila Harris (Socrates Academy) received third place for her watercolor “Butin.”  Judge Kurt Weiser praised the artist’s excellent use of the medium to create playful movement in the subject’s hair, intertwining butterflies and flowers.  Second place went to Katherine Lindsay for her mixed media piece “Blue Morpho Butterfly.”  “Love the design and multiple mediums used,” said Weiser.  “Good, varied line weights and pattern with ink, nice color blending with color pencil and graphite pencil. Unique and creative idea with page of dictionary and brown carboard.”  

Mackenzie Gainer and "Polychromatic Fox."
Mackenzie Gainer and “Polychromatic Fox.” Photo by John Lindenman.

Mackenzie Gainer (Porter Ridge Middle School) received first place in the middle school category for her acrylic painting “Polychromatic Fox.”  “The fox is nicely drawn and with  an expression of calm and sly within this color chaos going on around her,” said Weiser of the piece, which he claims was one of the first in the room to catch his eye.  “The colors pop off  the canvas playfully. The medium is used wonderfully, with texture, blending and combinations of colors.” 

Four honorable mentions were awarded in the high school category: Averi Proleika (Covenant Day School) for the haunting digital drawing “Molly,” Jasmyn Key (Weddington High School) for the vibrant colored pencil piece “Sunshine,” Peyton Logan (Weddington High School) for the startlingly realistic graphite pencil drawing “Fabric Sketch,” and Saheli Choudhury (Charlotte Mecklenburg Virtual High School/Self Taught) for the graphite pencil drawing “Ms. Tree.”  Each of the Honorable Mention winners received $25 from Robinson Orthodontics.

Saheli Choudhury and "Ms. Tree."
Saheli Choudhury and “Ms. Tree.” Photo by John Lindenman.

“If asked, I usually tell people the surface level meaning of what my piece means,” said honorable mention winner Saheli Choudhury, “but this one I completely left up to interpretation which is why I named it ‘Ms. Tree’ (say it out loud, and you’ll hear the word play).  It’s balanced between spiritual confidence and aesthetics,” continues Choudhury, “but basically it’s just really up to whatever the audience wants it to mean to them.”

Third place high school winner "Existential Rhyme" by Arantza Orbe
Third place high school winner “Existential Rhyme” by Arantza Orbe

Third place and $50 went to Butler High School student Arantza Orbe for their mixed media piece “Existential Rhyme.”  Weiser praised the uniqueness, creativity, and emotion evident in the abstract but meticulously thought-out folding booklet.  “Each panel tells a story with forms, images, and markings,” said Weiser.  “Complimentary colors create a wonderful visual flow from  back to front. The artist has an instinctive talent for abstract style. They use multiple mediums  and inspirational words to create forms and linework with purpose and control.”

Audrey Boyd, teacher Kim Blair (Butler High School) and "Woven Images of Vintage Car."
Audrey Boyd, teacher Kim Blair (Butler High School) and “Woven Images of Vintage Car.” Photo by John Lindemnan.

Second place and a $75 cash prize went to Butler High School student Audrey Boyd for her photo weaving “Woven Images of Vintage Car.”  “What a way to think ‘out of the box’ with photography  and sculpture!” remarked Weiser.  “I love how the artist used multiple photos of the same scene with different values and pieced together strips vertically and horizontally, creating a wonderful three-dimensional piece of this original photo of a vintage car.”

Artist Audrey Boyd photographed the car on a field trip to the Van Gogh exhibit in Charlotte.  “I used two different filters, and that creates two different levels of contrast so when they’re weaved together, it kind of creates more dimensionality to it,” says Boyd.  Remarkably, “Woven Images of Vintage Car” is Boyd’s very first print.  “I’m in the photography class, but because of COVID, we haven’t been in the dark room,” she explains, “so this was actually my first project.”

First place high school winner "The Laughing Lady" by Emma Burnette
First place high school winner “The Laughing Lady” by Emma Burnette

First place and $100 went to Metrolina Christian Academy student Emma Burnette for her graphite pencil drawing “The Laughing Lady.”  “Beautiful Portraiture,” said Weiser of the hyper-realistic portrait of a dark-skinned woman that can’t help but make you smile.  “She is perfectly positioned in the middle of a clean, white, vertically-orientated paper. Her dark skin pops off the page. Great technique of blurring the edges of the head and face to create a frame around the detailed focal  point of the eye, slightly open.”

In addition to the judged middle and high school work on display in the gallery, the student show also features unjudged work from artists enrolled in classes at Mint Hill arts in the neighboring hall.  Student work will be displayed at Mint Hill Arts through March 25.  The Gallery is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 12:00 am to 3:00 pm.

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