By Marshall Cearfoss
Though the works on display at the Tyler Museum of Art are typically formed by the hands of professionals, the lights now shine on exhibits created by local high school seniors.
For over a decade, the Tyler Museum of Art has hosted the Annual High School Art Exhibition, highlighting some of the most talented art students in East Texas.
“I love to see their faces when they look back and see what they started with and what they ended up with,” said Lisa Kendall, a Whitehouse High School art teacher.
Kendall has taught at Whitehouse for 25 years, and has proudly hailed her students’ work at every TMA high school exhibition.
“You can look at a piece of artwork and just about know whose it is, from our students,” said Kendall. “It’s just the style they’ve worked on continuously.”
Mark Harrison and Gerald Roulette, art instructors for All Saints Episcopal School, have been able to watch their students mature and gain skills through their years of teaching.
“To me, it’s not about the grade,” said Gerald Roulette, “it’s about the success of the work, the quality of the work. If you achieve that, the grade will take care of itself.”
Roulette has taught art at All Saints for four years, so he is as invested in his art students as they are to him.
“It’s rare that a student can get a chance to say that they showcased their work in the museum,” said Roulette. “It’s kind of a send-off for seniors. A big finale.”
Mark Harrison has been teaching at All Saints for two years, but he taught in Taiwan before coming to Texas.
“I don’t think you find many museums that have an opportunity for high school students to display their work,” said Harrison. “The TMA is unique like that to offer this for the local area students.”
Harrison is excited for the opportunities that the exhibit presents both to the students and to all of the local art departments.
“Anything that’s exhibited at the museum just helps to heighten the awareness of the arts and what’s being done at the schools in this area,” said Harrison. “I think it’s a great experience for the kids to be able to see what they can do. See the heights they can reach. It gives them an opportunity to see their work shown professionally.”
One of Kendall’s students, Kaitlyn Killian, portrayed her imagination through a photo of her sister by a uniquely placed urban mosaic.
Like the unique nature of her photo, she hopes to encourage people to approach life through a different perspective.
“A sense to think about other things is what I want people to get out of these,” said Killian.
Katie Draper, another artist from Whitehouse, used motivation from her travels to sculpt her work, Seek and Find.
Some of the inspiration for the art on display has come to the artists via rather extraordinary circumstances. One example is Whitehouse senior Trekeva Cotledge, who had a subconscious suggestion.
Cotledge’s dream inspired her to make an abstract self-portrait embodying her ancestry.
Meah Lin, an All Saints senior, won Best of Show with her piece called A Rose is a Rose. She said that her focus was to portray the idea of absolute youth and beauty.
Madalyn Garrett, a Whitehouse senior, used the emotion of her past to fuel the strokes of her painting.
“It’s inspired by something that happened to me,” said Garrett, “It’s called Ghosts of My Past, because two of my old friends kind of betrayed me. I’m just trying to communicate this to other people who have felt this way before.”
Although inspired by a somber history, Garrett’s display still brings her joy.
“It was cool to see it under the light and my little quote next to it,” said Garrett. “I saw artists with their art in museums all the time, it’s just cool to see mine in a museum now.”
One section of the display is entitled Up and Coming. This exhibit showcases the work of exceptional artists who aren’t yet seniors.
Elizabeth Schoenbrun, a sophomore from All Saints, has her piece, titled Brokenness, on display in the Up and Coming category of the exhibit.
“It’s supposed to represent a broken heart and emotion. It has a Bible verse around it that talks about the heart and what flows from it.”
With free admission, the exhibit will be on display at the Tyler Museum of Art until May 1. The museum is at 1300 South Mahon Avenue, Tyler, TX.