The Art Department at William Byrd High School held its annual Student Art Show on May 2 and 3, with an open house and reception for the artists, their parents and the public on the evening of May 3. Artwork by students from WBHS and William Byrd Middle School completely filled the library— a “stunning display” would be an understatement— with approximately 600 individual pieces.
All art students were encouraged to enter at least one work of their choice in the show; however, teachers kept an eye out throughout the year for pieces to include. Art teachers involved were Allyson Goin and Denise Sartell at WBHS and Rob Mitchell at WBMS.
There were drawings, paintings, computer design projects, and photographs, but also three-dimensional projects including pottery, sculpture, wood-burning, fibers, 3D textures, and even denim. There was art with a social conscience.
Possibly the most unique art project— and most talked about– included in this year’s event was the Social Denim Project introduced to the art department by the librarians at William Byrd. Students were asked to choose a social concern and research current information about the topic. They chose visual images that represented the positive and/or negative effects of that concern. Some topics were controversial; however, the art teachers said that they “are real issues people face and we feel they are portrayed in a mature way.” Topics chosen by students included endangered species and animal cruelty, gay rights, body image, religious and racial bigotry, childhood obesity, Syria, gun rights, student loans, and even the pros and cons of vaccines.
Students and staff were encouraged to visit the Art Show during the school day and to vote on their favorite piece of high school art as the “Best in Show.” Guests at the reception were also invited to vote.
The Best in Show winner was Sarah Grace Howard for her sculpture titled “Cavity.”
Four William Byrd art students in the show had already been declared winners at the annual regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in February and received a prime display space at the entrance to the show at William Byrd.
Senior Whitney Tickle received Honorable Mention in drawing and illustration in the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards held at the Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley in Pulaski for her work entitled “Autumn Breeze.” The Fine Arts Center is an affiliate of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.
Junior Kennah Hebert also received Honorable Mention in the Scholastic Art and Writing contest for her painting “Mechanics of the Wolf”; Jewell Doura received Honorable Mention for her painting “Dreaming in Detail.” They both chose to paint on felt, with embellishments permitted. Justice Meador received Honorable Mention for his painting “Study of ‘Blue Lovers’” by Marc Chagall.
Goin said both the Art Show and the Art Department have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. There are two full-time art teachers at the high school teaching 12 sections of classes this school year in Art 1, 2, 3, 4, AP, Digital Photography, and Computer Graphics.
The plan is to add two more part-time teachers and three more sections of classes for a total of 15 in the fall.
“The students have worked diligently all year and the show highlighted the evidence of the outstanding talent our students have,” commented WBHS Principal Tammy Newcomb. “William Byrd High School has two amazing art teachers, Mrs. Sartell and Mrs. Goin, who have the gift of encouraging and tapping into our students’ creativity.”