Annually, the Juried Student Exhibition at the Regional Arts Center brings a sampling of top student art to the gallery space, proving youthful minds can be just as creative as their adult counterparts, perhaps even more so.
That's the case this year with the 25th annual show, which opens Saturday with a public reception and runs through June 24. The reception includes People's Choice Award voting from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and an awards announcement at 11:45 a.m.
Merrie Wright served as this year's juror. She's the art department chairman at the University of Texas at Tyler. For the quality of artwork, she had plenty of high praise.
"Some of the works of art employ boldness and exhibit confidence; others are a platform for social or political commentary. I came across sheer joy and playfulness, as well as quiet poetry. I was struck by the honesty and authenticity in several works, a willingness to expose the truth, however painful or sorrowful it may be," she wrote in her juror's statement.
"Raw emotion came through in many works—not only in the narrative of the work, but also in the inventive way materials were manipulated and moved around within the work of art in a physically arresting way," Wright wrote.
Amy Donohoe, director of visual arts and community programs for the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council, also had plenty of positive observations about the show, including its sheer size.
This year they received 550 entries, up from 330 last year. "I'm happy so many regional and local schools are participating," Donohoe said, noting how refreshing it is to see young artists from the community and the work they create.
Selected were 50 elementary school works, 55 from middle schoolers and 70 from high school students, totaling 175 works. It is the most Donohoe's seen since she's been at TRAHC, and she said the juror had a tough time choosing with so much good work submitted.
"She really gave it some thought," Donohoe said.
For her part, Donohoe noticed a lot of portraits, mature and muted palettes and circular shape themes, among other yearly trends. Local artists from Texarkana included private students and students from both the Arkansas- and Texas-side school districts, as well as Pleasant Grove. A new participant was Chisum Independent School District from Paris, Texas.
All three floors at the RAC and the basement gallery space are packed with student art.
"This year I was super impressed with the middle school entries. I've never seen such high quality entries as we've had this year, so I was really happy," Donohoe said. "Chisum Middle School really brought their A game, as well as the private instructors like Jeannie Knod Edwards. Her students did very well."
One exciting middle school piece was a thoroughly charming 3-D fox head made with upholstery fabric. "Kim McVay is their (North Heights Junior High) teacher and they had entered a whole slew of different animal heads. I was just so impressed with the ingenuity and the craftsmanship that they put into it," Donohoe said. "I have never seen anything like that."
Another work she points to as indicative of the middle school quality is a simple cat portrait that's really not so simple. It's created from many bits of paper pieced together ever-so-carefully to create a pixellated mosaic.
"This is all cut paper from magazines," Donohoe said. "She said she used 13 different magazines to create a portrait of this cat, a portrait of her Siamese cat."
Also employing paper were College Hill Middle School students who made origami shapes that made it into the show. "I love the color schemes that they chose and just the way that they presented them," Donohoe said. "It was really nice and had good craftsmanship."
(Admission is free. The Regional Arts Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, at 321 W. 4th St. in downtown Texarkana. More info: TRAHC.org or 903-792-8681.)