The hills were alive with the sounds of children’s laughter Friday night, or at least the Foothills Arts Council was.
Young people from Surry, Yadkin and Wilkes counties displayed their art at the seventh annual Tri-County Youth Art Expo. Created as a yearly event in 2010 as a way to exhibit the art that had already been expressed through FAC children’s programs and after school art at Elkin, Mountain Park schools and the Arts Council, “The show gives an opportunity for students to display their art and feel proud, which produces self-esteem,” explained expo pioneer Jane Spencer.
“March was chosen because it is Youth Art Month and also gives teachers time to select art for the show,” stated Spencer. “After the work has been given back, the art pieces go on to other shows. Some of our winners have gone to Raleigh Arts Council.”
“Our standard has been to have only original work,” explained Spencer. “Pottery, visual art, puppet making and sewing were included.” The potential of many of these mediums were displayed in the winning works.
First place for the Lower Grades went to Kendall Luster, a second-grader at Elkin Elementary, with homeschooler Daisy Harris in second and Ariana Rios-Perez of Elkin Elementary in third place.
In the Upper Elementary category, fourth-grader Lilly Oneal of Dobson Elementary was awarded first place, followed by Rockford Elementary third-graders Destin McMillian in second, and McKenna Watson in third. Elkin third-grader Sophia Barron received an honorable mention.
Starmount Middle School seventh-graders Alli Pardue and Summer Fontana received first and third places, respectively, while homeschoolers Jaydon (sixth grade) and Micah (eighth grade) Vaughan received second and honorable mention for their category.
Elkin seniors received all the top honors in the High School category. Krista Bryant was awarded first place, while Beth Coe received second and Jordan Mays was granted third.
All winners received art supplies as prizes thanks to the sponsorship the NC Arts Council, Duke Energy, Rhythm on Main, Wells Fargo and Yadkin Valley United Fund.
“I was more than happy to do the judging for the Youth Art Expo when Dan Butner asked me to,” claimed local artist Candice Brown, “most importantly because it was for the kids.”
As owner of Wanderlust Studios in Downtown Elkin and a competitive artist herself, Brown was well qualified to, “judge on the creativity and originality of the theme. Interpretation and clarity to the viewer is also important, as well the overall quality of artistic composition and design.”
“I think it’s a nice chance [to display my art],” said Rios-Perez of the competition. “I’ll probably make art pictures and put them up online for people to see them.”
The first time Oneal participated in the expo she was in first grade. “Miss Simpson encouraged us,” claimed Oneal, who thought her work, “looked kind of whacky. It was fun.”
Participants were encouraged rather they received an award or not. Xoey Carter, a first-grader at Elkin, thought the experience was, “really cool,” although, “I was kind of nervous.”
Elkin Elementary Principal Pam Colbert obviously enjoyed seeing the pictures of her students bragging that she had been able to see much of it throughout the week displayed in the halls of the school. “It’s really great to see all the kids’ art work,” enthused Colbert, stating how much she appreciated art teacher Jill Bellia. “She teaches the developmental skill and then lets them go.”
Although most of the art was a form of painting or drawing a few pieces made use of different materials. “I like them all but the most unusual is [the fish],” stated FAC Director Dan Butner, “ the way it uses Coke cans and foil.”
“The Art Expo last night was wonderful and shows how many talented youth we have in our community,” enthused Spencer.
The Youth Art Expo will be on display at the Foothills Arts Council until March 25. The Arts Council is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.