I was honored last week to be asked to judge the student art show at the Great Falls School of Art. What an awesome responsibility! Putting your work out in public to be viewed and judged is very scary, and I wanted to be as encouraging as possible to all those who entered, since I couldn’t give an award to everyone!
My studiomate Elaine Elinsky, who’s a talented contemporary landscape painter, was my co-judge. It was really helpful to have another artist to bounce ideas off of, especially since the artwork was from a variety of ages, subject matter and skill level. There were awards for adult students and for the children and teens separately.
I took art classes when I was in high school and college, and I remember my first art show very clearly. I was 14 years old and I entered a painting of a double helix in a science-themed show sponsored by the local hospital where I lived. I was astonished to win a prize–a $5 bill which I think I still have. The experience made a huge impression on me and encouraged me to continue creating art.
The studio gallery was filled with people when I arrived to take part in the awards reception last Friday night. Everyone was really excited to see their work on the walls. The awards were announced by fellow artists Jill Banks and Jennifer Duncan, both of whom are teachers at the school. After the announcements were made, I spent a few minutes explaining our reasoning behind choosing each piece for an award, and encouraging those who didn’t win anything to keep working at it, because the overall quality of the work was really very high. Any of them could have been chosen for awards–it was very difficult to make the decisions.
I thought it was important to share my perspective on the art to help with the learning process, and I was pleased by how people seemed to appreciate it. Several of the young artists came up afterward to ask me questions and seek input on their work. I was impressed both by the fact that they were brave enough to engage and that they really seemed to want honest critique. I praised one student’s still life painting that wasn’t chosen for an award, and she pressed me to tell her what she could do better so that perhaps she could be chosen next time. I’m not sure my 14-year-old self would have been able to do that!
Visit Jill’s blog here to see images of all the winning artwork.
The show is up in the gallery at 1144 Walker Road, Suite G, Great Falls, VA, until the end of the month. Open days are Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12-4 PM, and other times by appointment.