March 10, 2012
Artwork lines the walls of the Vergie R. Fleenor Gallery of the Bristol Public Library. Some of it is oil paintings, or something done in pastels or watercolor. The subject matter varies – a cat here, a painting of electrical outlets there. But all 33 pieces – and the 30-odd pieces in the library’s adjacent J. Henry Kegley Meeting Room – were crafted by high school students.
Sixty-two submissions from teenagers across Southwest Virginia and upper East Tennessee came in for the Artistic Excellence Competition, sponsored by Arts in Public Places, said Barbara Niemczak, co-chair of the competition committee.
“This sort of thing gives students confidence and lets them see what value their art really has,” she said. “I think that’s a really big thing.”
She said other members of the committee have been “sort of like kids on Christmas morning” because they were so excited to meet the students whose art is showcased.
“People have been blown away by the art,” she said.
Riley Moore, a 16-year-old junior at The Academy at King, is responsible for the electric outlet painting.
“I was sitting down at my desk and I saw the power outlet,” she said. “And, I thought: consumerism.”
Riley, who won second place in the junior/senior acrylic painting category, said she didn’t expect to win anything, and she’s been inspired by looking at the other art on display.
“It’s really beautiful,” she said. “There’s so much great work here today. You hear the arts are dying but … this is pretty contrary.”
Fellow academy student Thalia Rodriguez, 16, won first place in the freshman/sophomore acrylic category.
“I did a Georgia O’Keefe flower thing,” she said of her work, adding that creating art is something she does to calm her mind.
She said she felt honored and proud to be included in the exhibit.
Home school student Howard Vernot won first and second place in the junior/senior oil category, and his younger siblings Timothy and Natalie took home second and third place in the freshman/sophomore oil category. Their mother, Martha Vernot, of Bristol, said she was proud of all three of her children.
Howard, 16, said the landscape he painted, which took second place, was the first painting he did, and then he painted a bowl of peaches for “something different.”
“It came out nicely,” he said.
Lisa Boardwine, the other committee co-chair, is also an artist. She said she was glad to be able to give students the chance to showcase their work and to win prizes – a total of $1,750 was dispersed.
“It’s a very exciting thing to be able to encourage young artists,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to see the talent; they’re an inspiration.”
Written by: Allie Robinson, Bristol Herald Courier. Source