Mint Hill Arts Tenth Annual Student Art Show

Friday's opening reception drew a large crowd of student artists, family and friends to Mint Hill Arts.
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On Friday, March 2, Mint Hill Arts hosted the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony for its tenth 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 this year.  This year’s show featured 163 total entries, 78 from elementary and middle school students and 85 from high school students.  Entries came from five different elementary schools, eight different middle schools, seven different high schools and homeschooled students at every level.

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 provided by Robinson Orthodontics.  This year’s high school entries were judged by Glenwood Barnes, a certified carpenter and woodworker and self-taught painter whose work is currently on display at Irene Cafe.

The highlight of Friday’s Opening Reception was the announcement of the contest winners by Gallery Chair Thea Barato and President David McGee.  Award recipients were notified by Barato prior to the reception that they had received a prize, but they were not aware which prize they had won, so the announcements were a surprise.  In addition to cash prizes provided by Robinson Orthodontics, winners received ribbons, which will hang next to their works for the duration of the show.

Providence High School senior Owen Ward won an Honorable Mention for his pen and marker drawing “Radiowaves.”  “I based it off of the 50s,” says Ward of the vibrant diner scene that will feature in his AP art portfolio this spring.  According to Barnes, the piece’s “great energy” is one of the factors that earned it an honorable mention.  “I’m thinking about majoring in fashion,” says Ward, “so I really wanted to focus on women’s role in society and their fashion in each decade.”

Owen Ward with his pen and marker drawing “Radiowaves.”

Independence High School junior Tatiana Navarette also won an Honorable Mention for her piece “White Crystalline.”  According to Navarette, the shattering salt shaker represents “a view of repression in society.”  “The colors are very complementary, and it’s eye catching,” said Barnes of the digital photograph.

Tatiana Navarette’s “White Crystalline.”

Barato and McGee also awarded Honorable Mentions to Teddy Perelli from Providence High School and Nicholas Marvin from Independence High School.  Barnes called Perelli’s colored pencil drawing “Steampink” “an interesting blend of realism mixed with surrealism.”  Marvin’s copper wire sculpture “Copper Tree” was the only piece of three-dimensional art to win an award.  “The judge was so blown away by the intricacy, the details of that sculpture,” said Barato.  “He knew it must have taken an extraordinary amount of time.”

Teddy Perelli’s “Steampink” won an honorable mention.
Award winning sculpture “Copper Tree” by Nicholas Marvin

Third place was awarded to Butler High School junior Michelle Aguilar for her photograph “Path in the Woods.”  Barnes was impressed by the realism of the photograph.  “It allows the viewer to insert themselves in it,” he said.

“Path in the Woods” by Michelle Aguilar.

Georgia Kibler, a junior at Covenant Day School, won second place for her relief painting “Chief.”  One of the things that makes Kibler’s piece unique is its medium; Kibler chose to paint not on canvas but on cardboard.  “Basically, I just decided that cardboard is a lot easier to paint on than canvas, so I started experimenting with it, and I thought it would be really cool to layer it,” says Kibler.  “I love it,” says Kibler’s teacher, Katie Spata.  “I love her use of texture, I love the three-dimensional aspect of it, the relief part . . . I love how it’s very organic.”

Georgia Kibler with her relief panting “Chief.”

The piece features cardboard painted and layered together with hot glue to form the image of a Native American Chief, but the message of this piece is just as important to Kibler as its medium.  “I’ve always had a heart for Native Americans and their situation in America right now,” says Kibler, referencing the Dakota Pipeline.  “I just think they’re really cool people who have really gotten their culture taken away from them.”

First place was awarded to Northside Christian Academy senior Yebing Chen.  “The judge loved the technique, loved the skill that was employed,” said Barato of Chen’s acrylic painting “Murphy Dog.”  Chen was unfortunately sidelined by the flu on Friday night, but Chen’s teacher accepted the reward on her behalf.

First-place winner “Murphy Dog” by Yebing Chen.

Chen normally works in detailed portraiture, so the detailed painting of a sleeping dog marked a departure from her normal subject matter.  “We were talking about bringing things to life,” said Luther of the art school hopeful who wants to be an illustrator.  “She was trying to stretch herself because this was about the time she’s applying to college.”

The final piece is in part the product of a productive critique.  Originally, Chen had the dog resting on a solid-colored floor.  “We did a class critique, and the class said perhaps you want to add a little bit more,” said Luther.  “Ten minutes later she comes up with a beautiful shadow and turns it around and everyone says, ‘You nailed it!’”

Prize winners Tatiania Navarrete, Georgia Kibler and Own Ward.

The student show also featured unjudged work from local elementary and middle school students.  Bain Elementary fifth grader William Perry was proud to show his orange, blue and black weaving.  “We had a weaver come to to our school through the Arts and Sciences Council in the fall from Sandy Creek Weavers,” said Bain Elementary Art School Teacher Carrie Vizzini.  After the weaver visited with her 300-year-old barn loom, Vizzini gave her fifth graders the opportunity to weave on a small cardboard loom.  

Elementary school art was displayed in the hallway behind the main gallery.

“The main objective was to create the weaving with two different types of weaving, the tabby weave and the basket weave,” said Vizzini.  “They were supposed to limit their colors to three or four.”  Perry chose blue and orange because they contrasted with each other and highlighted the separation between basket weaves with black.

William Perry and his weaving.

Student work will be displayed at Mint Hill Arts for the month of March.  The Gallery is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  For the month of April, some of the winning pieces will hang at Robinson Orthodontics.

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: