An Eye For Art

Mid-South Scholastic Art Awards 2013 opens this month at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

If you’ve got an artist at home, chances are they’re feeling a bit edgy right now. Students who submitted their work for the Mid-South Scholastic Arts Awards are anxiously waiting to learn if their work has received a gold or silver key, the highest honors bestowed to students who enter the juried competition.

For the third year in a row, students have been submitting their work online, and according to Kathy Dumlao, associate curator of education at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, more than 1,786 submissions were received this year from more than 1,300 students across the Mid-South.

The competition honors students in grades 7 to 12, recognizing excellence in the fine arts — including painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, fashion, multi-media, and writing) and awarding cash prizes and scholarships to five universities across the Mid-South. Those schools include the University of Memphis, Ole Miss, Christian Brothers University, Arkansas State University, and Memphis College of Art.

The Memphis Brooks League started the competition in 1966, when it was called the Junior Mid-South Exhibition. In 1988, the organization connected with the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, which host the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Image: Tess DeViney, St. Agnes Academy, Shades of Sophie, Senior Division, Best-in-show, 2012

Dumlao says many of the students have work submitted throughout their high school career “taking what they’ve learned each year and submitting again the following year.” One student in 2007 even won a prestigious national award.

Award notifications appear on the museum’s website on Friday, January 11th, at noon. The exhibition of award winners will open January 26th, at the museum. The show runs through February 17th.

The juried art show is judged by working artists and academics. This year, African-American painter Jared Small was among those asked to participate. He is also a former key winner.

Dumlao is always anxious to see what each year’s competition will bring. In 2011, the big surprise were the fashion submissions, which jumped way up from previous years. Bolton High School students, in particular, submitted a number of pieces and won several awards. One Hutchison student also submitted an entire fashion portfolio. Although Memphis isn’t a hotbed for fashion design yet, artists like Ellis Dixon and Eric Evans (aka Sache), are working in the field and producing garments in Memphis. (If you’ve ever spotted the Grindfather T-shirts at Grizzlies games, then you’ve seen Sache’s work.)

If you’ve never made a point to see the show, put it on your calendar. It is inspiring to see the students’ work — confirmation that the creative juices in Memphis are being fostered and helped to flourish. MP

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