The University of Memphis Art Education program gave kindergarten through 12th grade students the chance to showcase their artwork to a crowd of people at their art exhibition.
The 12th Annual Art Education Alumni Juried Exhibition attracted spectators from all around Memphis to its opening reception in the Art and Communication Building on Feb. 27. The exhibition features pieces created by art education alumni and their students.
“It’s a great opportunity to show your students’ work here at the U of M gallery to highlight what they do,” David Pentecost, art education alumnus and White Station High School art teacher, said. “You get to put their work out here in public like this. I think it’s special for them that way. That’s kind of what draws me to do it again year after year.”
This year’s exhibition consists of work by art education alumni who teach at public and private schools in Shelby County as well as art from one male and one female student to accompany their teacher’s piece. The exhibition also includes art in several different forms and a wide range of creative displays.
The exhibition began as way to reconnect with U of M art education alumni and show people what kind of art is being developed in K-12 schools. The exhibition occurs every year in March, Youth Art Month, to promote the importance of the arts in education.
The quality of art produced by young children and the meaning behind the pieces amazed many people who attended the event. The theme of this year’s exhibition is “Reflections,” encouraging many of the young artists to draw meaning from their work and make personal connections. These connections and reflections are presented in each artist’s artist statement.
Julie Kyle, a 10-year-old student from U of M Campus School, uses her piece, “A Star for Life,” to show that everyone has importance and uniqueness, which she calls “a star.” By arranging images of prominent Civil Rights figures and moments in the shape of the peace sign in front of a mirror and the American flag, Kyle said she hopes her art will cause people to reflect on themselves and realize “everyone has a voice” they should use to make a change.
“We are all stars, and every person, regardless of race, religion or culture, deserves their equal rights,” Kyle said. “Everybody has a star, nobody can take your star, and it’s yours forever. Everybody has a talent. Don’t be afraid to be you.”
To many of the students, having their work showcased before the eyes of art lovers in a real gallery was an exciting and memorable experience. Kyle said she felt like much of her work had finally paid off.
“I was really, really excited because I did work really hard on this,” Kyle said. “It took me a lot of weeks, a lot of time, I worked on this almost every day after school.”
Many of the students were also simply motivated by the prospect of being chosen to participate in the exhibition. Jackson Juckett, a 10-year-old student from St. George’s Independent School’s Germantown campus, said once he found out he had a chance to be in the exhibition, he “just decided to try” and now is “feeling really proud.”
“I never thought I was a good artist,” Juckett said. “It took me like six hours to make the sketch. I just sat down like ‘I have to do this,’ and then I just drew for like six hours.”
Each student’s artwork and their artist statements can still be viewed at the exhibition in room 230 in the Art and Communication Building. The exhibition is open for all and will be on display until March 15.