When I was a child, my favorite class in grade school was art. Even in kindergarten, I was fascinated by the idea of creativity and to get to do something in school that didn’t come with having to memorize something. No grade to worry about. Just be free and CREATE! Finger painting day was my most cherished in art class. There was something magical about getting my hands messy and smearing those primary colored paints all over the place … and I mean that literally! I’d wind up with more paint on me and my little smock than what the paper “canvas” absorbed.
The crowning achievement was when Mrs. Geninetti, my grandmotherly kindergarten teacher, made her way around the classroom to observe and comment on everyone’s “masterpiece.” Secretly, I thought she always liked mine best. Even though the word “BRAVO!” excitedly rolled across her lips at every stop, I always noticed a special, reassuring wink above the horn-rimmed glasses resting on the tip of her nose. Years later, I realized anyone with motor skills can finger paint.
Unfortunately, I also realized as time went by that I pretty much stunk at further fine art forms, much to my chagrin. Despite many attempts and deep desire long into my adulthood, to this day I can’t draw, paint, sculpt or photograph anything decent enough to save my life if it depended on it. I was happy to discover my artistic talent in other arenas, of course, but I’ve always marveled at those who have the talent to create works of art with their hands. The other thing I’ve discovered along the way is that I have so much more appreciation of art that I’m inept at doing myself. It amazes me how fine artists, regardless of their chosen medium, have such talent to produce works that are visually stunning to the point of invoking intense emotional reactions on the same par as theater.
Prior to The Scholastic Art Competition exhibit’s opening, I had the opportunity to enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at the art that is now on display at Cheekwood, which your family can view through Sunday, Feb. 21. The artwork is part of the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the oldest (and one of the most prestigious) student art competitions in the country. More than 77,000 students in grades 7 – 12 participate each year. This is the 19th year that Cheekwood serves as a regional affiliate representing Middle Tennessee, and approximately 850 works of art submitted by local students include painting, drawing, photography, digital art, ceramics and sculptures. A panel of local judges selected 59 “Gold Key” level works, which are the ones you can see in the exhibit. Once the exhibit closes, those pieces will go to New York to be judged in the national exhibition.
I highly recommend you take your kids to see the exhibit. You’ll see true high-caliber works of art. I enjoy each year’s Scholastic exhibit, but the level of artistic quality swirling about this season is breathtaking. There are several works that one would assume had been created by seasoned artists, older in years. Realizing these creations are by the hands of students in junior high and high school makes the experience extra awe-inspiring.
Maybe I’ll dig out the finger paints again soon.