Visual Art students in elementary, middle and high school competed against several schools on April 22 and ranked first in the region. Projects were judged by certain criteria specific to their category. The top four high school pieces in each category will advance to the state competition.
The Visual Arts classes have participated in this annual competition for over six years. Art teacher Mrs. Julie Barksdale is a firm believer in her students and recognizes the importance that the competition provides.
“There's nothing like, as a teacher, seeing my students’ work, and how it lines up with other kids' work,” said Barksdale. “And I think they get that feeling too when they walk through the gallery, and they see their work. It's a lot better gauge of where they're at artistically. And some of the students are going into art fields. They're preparing portfolios for college. This is definitely a building block for them in the future…I think it provides a lot of satisfaction for a lot of hard work that they've done.”
Students work hard on individual projects throughout the year. In class, Mrs. Barksdale conducts projects incorporating the elements of art and the principles of design. Each of these concepts is explored with a variety of mediums. Some of these projects are classwork that have the potential of later becoming competition pieces. The goal of the class is to inspire and encourage artists to think outside the box, experiment and build on their existing skills.
“We just try to give them a broad range of skill sets, so they have been exposed to a lot of different mediums within those categories,” said Mrs. Barksdale. “And then if they go further [in art], hopefully, they feel comfortable trying new things…I feel like the more variety that they have in experimenting, the more confident they feel trying new techniques.”
Many students entered the Regional competition. Senior Hailey Wright, sophomore Libby Sanders and junior Mia Staud are only a few who have submitted pieces. Their pieces will be in the painting, printmaking, sculpting, mixed media, graphic design, black and white drawing and expressions of faith categories.
Mrs. Barksdale helps the students prepare by offering advice and serving as a resource for the artists as they encounter challenges. She is an art student, as well, and what she learns filters down into her teaching.
“In-class time helps us grow as artists because Mrs. Barksdale[…] is there to help us and give us advice,” said Staud. “She has helped me really elevate my pieces.”
The competition itself also teaches important lessons to aspiring artists. Throughout the competition process, artists learn to challenge themselves and enjoy the hard work in the creative process.
“I have learned that competition helps you really want to do the best you can,” said Staud. “You want to truly represent yourself and put forth something you’re proud of. Sometimes things you love won’t make it, and that’s okay too as long as you’re proud of it.”