CHATSWORTH – As gratifying as the awards and accolades are for students whose work has appeared in the Murray Arts Council student art exhibition, perhaps nothing could match the exhilaration of seeing a piece of their work purchased .
“This is my first sale, (so) I was really excited and happy,” said Sarah Sane, a ninth grader who is homeschooled. “It definitely boosts your self-esteem and makes you want to do more (art).”
Her ninth-grade colleague, Gracey Chambers, was so taken with Sane’s miniature recreation of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” that she bought it for a shelf in her bedroom.
“It’s very beautiful and pretty,” said Chambers, who attends North Murray High School and also had artwork in the display. “It’s so much fun making art and being creative.”
“You can express yourself,” Sane said. “It’s what you want it to be.”
Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ was at the forefront of Sane’s mind when she saw his small canvas, and ‘I was very happy with it’, so she entered it in the art exhibit , she said. It’s “just acrylic (paint) – I used my small brush – and found it much more fun to work small”.
“With a big canvas, you feel (the pressure) to fill it all up,” she added. The mini paintings are “like a travel size”.
Murray County high school students were highlighted in the exhibit which ran from Thursday to Saturday. The council is a non-profit arts agency serving Chatsworth and Murray County, and more information is available on the council’s Facebook page or at murray-arts.com.
Artists Michael Thompson and Mayelli Diaz Meza and graphic designer and banjo player Jim Pankey volunteered to judge the exhibit, according to arts council chair Lori McDaniel. Cash prizes were awarded for first through third place, as well as for the Judges Choice Awards.
Stephanie Vargas, who received an honorable mention for “Opposites Attract”, is a senior who exhibited an art collection in this exhibition, while “this is the first year of art (from Emerald Jordan) here” said Ashli Solinger, art teacher at Murray County High School. . Jordan, also an honorable mention — for his collage, “Another Sunny Day,” — simply has “a talent.”
The Judges’ Choice winners were Jade Thompson and McKenzee Lofty of North Murray, and Alex Lynch of Murray County High, who was also a finalist for this year’s Bernice Spigel Award for Excellence in Visual Arts from the Creative Arts Guild. .
Lynch has been recognized for her “Self Portrait, Color,” and she enjoys working with the human figure, including portraits, she explained. “I love working with stylized pieces, and everyone looks so different, so there are so many (facial) features you can work with.”
“I’m really proud of what I drew and happy that others liked it too,” Thompson said. “We were commissioned in art to do a charcoal still life, and I tried to put as much detail into it as possible.”
“It was my first time using charcoal, (so) it took a bit of getting used to because it’s so messy and not what I usually use “, she said. “I like colored pencils, but I would still use charcoal.”
“I love that we can show others what we can do and spread our work before we become adults,” said Thompson, who was named the winner of the Murray County Farm Bureau’s 2022 art competition. “Recognition is a boost”.
There are “so many talented people, but a lot of them can’t express what they can do,” Lofty said. “It’s cool that we have the opportunity to do that” at this exhibition.
Lofty’s clay piece, “Island of Good and Evil,” took him “about a month to build, and then you have to bake it and dry it, so it took about 2.5 months in total,” a- she declared. “I love building things, getting my hands dirty and representing things.”
“Island of Good and Evil” is “one of my favorite creations,” she said. “There’s a lot of good and bad in the world right now, but so many good that it outweighs the bad, I think”, so his play has more “good” than “bad”.
And “inside the island, there is good” behind the bad, she says. “There’s a good side behind even a bad person.”
Lofty praised her North Murray art teacher, Kristy Sitton, for helping her excel.
“She’s very inspirational and has taught me almost everything I know,” Lofty said. “She really gives you hope when you’re down, and I couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”
Art shows like this are essential to nurture young artists, Sitton said.
“For some of these students, it’s one of the few recognitions they get.”
Although the art exhibition focused on older pupils, a selection of works from Chatsworth Primary School’s recent ‘Our Community Chatsworth’ exhibition were also on display. Pieces from that project were also on display on the porch of the Wright Hotel on Saturday at the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society’s railroad exhibit.
Kindergarten students from Chatsworth Elementary produced a watercolor of Fort Mountain, first graders created a watercolor of Chattahoochee National Forest flowers, second graders contributed a life colored pencil quilt Indian Cherokee, third graders focused on carving regional animal habitats, fourth graders focused on trains with pen and ink drawings, fifth graders were living wax figures based on historical people and places, and sixth graders produced coil pottery.
This project was made possible by a grant from the MB Seretan Foundation – Competitive Arts in Education Grants are available each year for elementary school teachers at Dalton Public Schools, Murray County Schools and of Whitfield County – administered by the local Oscar N. Jonas Foundation. Bud Seretean was an early and generous contributor to the Creative Arts Guild – his friendship with Oscar Jonas led to him being a founding member and then President of the Jonas Foundation – so the grants honor their love of the arts.
Murray County High’s Riley Ogles won first place in the art show, for “Practice Makes Perfect”; North Murray’s Jordan Defriece finished second, with “Mandala Sunflower”; and Murray County High’s Daniel Sanders won bronze, for “Growing Together.”
“I see a lot of talent” in this exhibit, McDaniel said. “I encourage you all to keep making art.”