Arts on Main showcases student talent

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA — Students from across Shelby County converged on Columbiana Saturday, May 15 for the first ever Arts on Main event.

The businesses on Main Street hosted exhibits of student artwork, while Old Mill Square Park was filled with the sounds of performances by school choirs and bands, and the Grande Hall showcased more than 200 paintings, drawings and photographs by senior AP art students representative of the entire Shelby County Schools district.

Among these was a work titled “Codependency” by Oak Mountain High School graduating senior Hannah Smith, which depicts a butterfly surrounded by four human hands—three of them holding pushpins and a fourth reaching out.

“I wanted to play with the color scheme, and opposites of like yellows and purples and blues and oranges, and I also really like butterflies so I just put that in there,” Smith said. “And then the pins and the hands are representative of like abuse. And then there’s one hand reaching out, which I think is really up for interpretation.”

Smith said she started making art as a freshman and credited her teacher, Nicole McKinney. The colored pencil piece “Codependency” took her three months to complete.

“I like expressionism. I think it’s very nice, like Van Gogh and stuff like that,” Smith said, adding she plans to attend Utah State and study psychology.

Alex Diaz of Helena High School had his photography featured at the exhibit. Much of his work depicts small details found in nature, not far from his home. He said one of his teacher’s favorite photos was taken out of boredom.

“I like to get out, you know, take some pictures about nature and stuff. It is nice to go out and to see it,” he said.

Diaz bought a camera in November along with a mini-tripod and special lenses. He plans on majoring in photography at the University of Montevallo and is also interested in architecture and macro photography.

Michelle Hall, supervisor of fine arts and library media for Shelby County Schools, was pleased with Saturday’s weather and the turnout.

“We could not have asked for better weather, but our main goal in organizing the event was to really be able to showcase all of the hard work that our students have continued to put in, even in a challenging school year,” she said. “For our bands and choirs, they were limited in how they could perform, even how they could practice and prepare, and even for our art kids it was a challenge because of materials and being able to share paint brushes or things that you wouldn’t normally think about. All of those things were very limited for them, but you can see it didn’t stop any of the creativity that went on.”

Hall estimated at least 400 students participated in Saturday’s event. In addition to those mentioned, Calera High School’s theatrical production of “Aladdin” was featured.

She credited Joel Dixon, a Columbiana resident and assistant superintendent of human resources for Shelby County Schools, with the idea for Arts on Main. She also said the talent on display was a tribute to the district’s teachers.

“We have the best teachers who jumped in at the beginning of this year and said, ‘We’re not going to let our kids miss out on anything.’ That was kind of the goal behind this,” Hall explained.

Food trucks were on site to provide dining options for those in attendance, while performances continued through the early part of the evening.