Pelham’s artistic champion

From left, Kim Harrison, Nicole Stratton and Congressman Bachus at the Congressional Art Show Awards reception. (Contributed)

From left, Kim Harrison, Nicole Stratton and Congressman Bachus at the Congressional Art Show Awards reception. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“This could be the year,” Pelham High School’s Fine Arts Department Chair Kim Harrison said as she gathered art to submit to the Congressional Art Show. Harrison has been a willing participant in the PHS Literary Magazine staff’s art raids as we seek out artwork for the magazine every year.

Seeing the talent of our artists and appreciating the devotion of Harrison and her art teachers is humbling.

Harrison, a veteran teacher, appreciates her students’ abilities and works as a tireless advocate seeking out opportunities to spotlight their talents. She has been submitting student work to the Congressional Art Show for the 15 years that District 6 has been participating.

“We been close in this competition. We’ve had several students place, but this year, we could have a winner,” Harrison said.

Harrison was Pelham High School’s only art teacher for many years; however, her skills and the encouragement and hard work of art teachers at feeder schools produced so many talented artists that Harrison could no longer meet the demand for PHS art courses alone. Today Pelham High has five art teachers offering electives including Advanced Placement art, sculpture and photography.

Every year, art submitted to the Congressional Art Show is displayed at the Riverchase Galleria Mall—and then a winner is chosen. Harrison was right. This year, PHS senior AP art student Nicole Stratton received first place honors. Stratton’s first-place art was a self-portrait pencil sketch with a bit of whimsy featuring the artist peeping through her fingers. Stratton titled the piece Peek-A-Boo.

At the Congressional Art Show Awards reception, U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus announced that Southwest Airlines would present Stratton with round-trip tickets to attend the National Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. and hotel accommodations would also be provided.

“I’ve never been to Washington, D.C., and I love history!” Stratton told Harrison earlier.

This summer, Stratton and her mother will journey to the nation’s capitol to attend the award ceremony and view the art show. Nicole Stratton’s art will be displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol and featured on the Congressional Art website.