Juried High School Art Exhibition celebrates talent and awards scholarships

Posted on April 01, 2021 by Abby May

High schoolers from across the state put their art on display at Sweet Briar College. The exhibition took place from Feb. 1 to April 2 and a public reception was held on March 20 where a group of Sweet Briar faculty, staff and students juried the exhibition. Five high school students received a scholarship prize in the categories of presidential pick, best in show, jurors choice, students choice and honorable mention. The scholarships are awarded to students who have been accepted and are committed to attend Sweet Briar.

“I recognize that there are very few opportunities for high school students to exhibit work in a professional setting,” says visual arts professor Shawn O’Connor. “I also felt as if young female artists aren’t always encouraged to pursue their artistic passion. My goal in creating this juried exhibition was to give young female artists an opportunity to exhibit their work and provide some financial support, in the form of scholarships, for their artistic achievements.”

“I thought all the young artists who applied for our first Juried High School Biennial, showed a lot of courage submitting their work to be evaluated by our panel. With how successful this went, I’m already looking forward to the next juried exhibition.”

The winners are:

Presidential Pick: Abigail Huling, “Warrior’s Death”

“I was introduced to printmaking in the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School (Virginia Beach, VA) in 2019. The technique was intriguing to me because it made me consider form in new and exciting ways. The subject of this particular print piece was inspired by my learning about Aztec/Mexica cultures, I was introduced to the Aztec god of war, Huītzilōpōchtl.  I learned that fallen warriors and women who died in childbirth would join the ancient god, Huītzilōpōchtl, in the after life.  It is believed that after accompanying the god for four years, each would be reborn as a hummingbird.  Intrigued by this juxtaposition, I looked further into the connection between warriors and pregnant women in the Aztec/Mexica culture and learn that soon-to-be mothers were held on equal footing with warriors, as childbirth was considered to be a battle in its own right.  This intrigued me and inspired me to create this work.”

“I was honored to receive the award of President’s Choice.  It made me happy that a person of her station would consider my art good enough to be recognized by such an award.”

Best in Show: Abigail Lindsey, “The Arrival of Autumn”

“This piece was inspired by the changing of the seasons, which is the reasoning behind the title I chose. My mom’s favorite season is fall, so we had recently put up her autumn-themed decorations when I was assigned an observation project in my art class. I decided to draw a still-life of some small gourds that we had just bought from a local farm, which are a staple in my mom’s fall decorations. When the gourds appear on the kitchen table, I know that fall is here. In this art class, my teacher encouraged her students to have a 24-pack of Prismacolor colored pencils, so despite having little experience using colored pencils, I wanted to try out my new set. The result was everything I had hoped it would be, but much better than I expected. This has inspired me to continue working with colored pencils in my art.”

“I plan on becoming an elementary school teacher and I know art will be a huge part of this. Art will be used in a variety of ways in my classroom. For example, incorporating art into my curriculum in order to encourage my students’ creativity and allow them to express themselves. Regardless of what specific kind of teacher I become, I know art will be an important component in my classroom.”

Jurors Choice: Gabriella Garza, “Collection”

“For my art piece, I was inspired to create my own bug collection. I love the idea of having a beautiful collection of bugs. By creating my own collection, I could choose my own colors and texture for the bugs. All the bugs are hand embroidered and made to look like real bugs.”

“I hope to be a part of groups that can educate others. I want to be able to do something important in college and I believe art could be a part of this. Art and artists can educate and create awareness about certain issues through meaningful pieces.”


Honorable mention: Emily Smith, “Beyond Dotted”

“I love sunflowers and all plants so it began with me really wanting to paint sunflowers but I didn’t want to paint the usual sunflower piece that you see everywhere. Because of quarantine cutting my school year and any chance of leaving the house a whole lot gone, I decided to do it in the form of being created with mostly dots.”

“Although my main focus in college will be in science I believe that these two fields of study and creativity really play a part in collaborating with each other. Even when working with plants and general biology, art will also take a role therein creating intricate drawings of my study pieces like DNA strands and pictures of plants.”

Students Choice: Charlotte Schroeder, “Beautiful Fool”