Student artwork displayed in UM program

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

Were you to walk into Montevallo University’s Bloch Hall on March 1, you would have been treated to a gallery of some of the most outstanding artwork in area, all of it done by local middle and high school students. The paintings, sculpture, mixed media and artwork of other mediums were stunning and a testament to the up-and-coming creatives in our community.

This gallery was the result of the Visual Achievement Program, an event that Montevallo hosted through the Alabama State Council of the Arts. The program is offered to academic bodies teaching art in the state of Alabama. The district that Montevallo hosted covered Shelby County, Hoover and Vestavia Hills schools.

First place winner Ruthie Johns with art teacher Michelle Branson of SCHS. (Contributed/Sasha Johns)

Students participating in the program were hand-picked by art teachers from each participating school. The honor afforded the chosen students the privilege of taking a college-level art workshops taught by a professor and a chance to see their masterpieces compete with the work of other budding artists. The art workshops included, but weren’t limited to, fingerprint self-portraits, digital media and vinyl cutting.

Jessie Tisdale, art teacher at Helena High School, said this about the program: “I believe the Visual Arts Achievement Program is important for our students because it provides an opportunity for them to see their artwork on display in a college setting. It is beneficial for them to see the work being created by their peers and have the opportunity to compete against students both locally and at the state level. Perhaps most importantly, the students are able to tour a college art department, interact with professors, visit BFA student studios and participate in workshop sessions taught by the professors.”

After the morning workshops wrapped up, the young artists met in the gallery, where awards and winning ribbons were handed out to artists for various categories. The first place artwork will be sent to Montgomery from the Montevallo district to compete statewide.

“The experience was altogether exciting,” said Ruthie Johns, an award-winning student from Shelby County High School. “I really learned a lot in my workshop about drawing proportions, and I enjoyed meeting new people.”