On Friday, March 7, Mint Hill Arts was packed for the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony for its twelfth 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.
Mint Hill Arts’ Student Art Show is open to all area public, private and homeschooled students in grades kindergarten through twelve as well as to students of any age who have taken classes at Mint Hill Arts beginning in September of 2019. For high school students, the Student Art Show is not only an opportunity to showcase their work but also an opportunity to compete for generous awards. This year’s show featured 91 judged entries as well as non-judged work from a wide variety of elementary and middle schools.
The highlight of Friday’s Opening Reception was the announcement of the contest winners. Award recipients were notified prior to the reception that they had received a prize, but they were not aware of which prize they had won, so the announcements were a surprise. In addition to cash prizes, winners received ribbons, which will hang next to their works for the duration of the show.
An honorable mention went to Butler High School eleventh grader Brandon Moats for “Bike Weaver.” “It was this little gem,” said judge Kurt Weiser of the piece, which weaves together black and white photographs of a bicycle to create a new image of the photographed bicycle. “The value changes within that photograph!” continued Weiser. “He weaved it vertically and horizontally, it took time. I would love to see whatever you do again because from that mind comes really creative stuff.”
Metrolina Christian Academy junior Tyler Pouges earned another honorable mention for her whimsical mixed media piece “Beauty in Simplicity.” “I smiled every time I walked by that thing,” said Weiser. “It’s like Mexican folk art, like Diego Rivera. There’s so much movement in that scene. The roofs are lined, the trees are curved, the wind is blowing.”
A third honorable mention went to Covenant Day School junior Mia Schaeffer for her paper sculpture “Ship Wrecked.” “People need to go over to that paper sculpture,” said Weiser. “What really got me was the content and the context of the book that she used, The American Annuals of 1863.” The text visible on the pages used to construct the ship tells the story of slaves being transported to America from Africa. “I wanted to do something 3-D,” said Schaeffer, who was influenced by her love of origami. “The pages took a while to figure out how to do. I ended up spraying them with water and rolling them up, and then the next day they would become like the waves. That was what created the movement.”
The last honorable mention of the evening went to Metrolina Christian senior Ashleigh Wright for her watercolor “Jellyfish.” Weiser was impressed not only by Wright’s soft, blended background but also by her crisp, pointillistic penwork. “You judge by your emotion, by how much thought went into it, by the technique of the media used,” said Weiser. “My emotion was to that jellyfish every time.”
Third place went to Olivia Mueth, an eleventh grader from Covenant Day School, for her metal mixed media sculpture “Dragon of 1,000 Cuts.” The impressive and whimsical dragon is made of recycled materials including a water faucet, ball bearings, deconstructed earrings, old zippers, screws, nails, and soda cans. Weiser encouraged viewers to return during the day to see the sculpture in the light. “The Mountain Dew on the back is green, and you have this glow, this green coming down the back of it during the daytime,” said Weiser.
Metrolina Christian Academy sophomore Ella Stoneham won second place for her scratch art “La Luna,” which depicts a night on the savannah. “This is one of my favorite pieces,” said Weiser, addressing Stoneham. “With an etching, it’s all about your pressure, your diagonals. The lines that you used are amazing. The one thing I love the most about it is that tree – how strong that tree was, how balanced it was at the base. It’s a beautiful scene.” The etching was a new technique for this youngest prizewinner who usually paints and sketches.
The top prize of the night went to Piedmont High School senior Adyson Helms for her hyper-realistic colored pencil drawing “Different, but Equal.” “Amazing pencil work, crisp lines, beautiful blending,” said Weiser, reading from his notes. “The eyes followed me when I first came in and never stopped until I gave them the award they deserved.” “I tried to show that they all look different, but they have the same features,” said Helms. “In society, even if we are different skin colors or races, we’re still the same.”
In addition to the judged high school work, the student show also features unjudged work from local elementary and middle school students. “I think for them to have a piece in an art show, they really feel honored and important,” said Bain Elementary School Art Teacher Leah Price, recalling the wide-eyed looks on her students’ faces when she handed them invitations to the show. “It really gives them a feeling of being a true artist.”
Student work will be displayed at Mint Hill Arts through March 22. The Gallery is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm.