Student Art Rocks

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The biggest thing I look forward to during the month of January is getting to marvel at the amazing works of art on display at Cheekwood during the Scholastic Art Competition exhibit. Running Jan. 27 – Feb. 19, 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 — the likes of Red Grooms and Andy Warhol were past winners.

More than 77,000 students in grades 7 – 12 participate in the competition each year, and this is the 20th year that Cheekwood serves as a regional affiliate representing Middle Tennessee. More than 800 works of art submitted by local students include paintings, drawings, photography, digital art, ceramics and sculpture.

A panel of judges select “Gold Key” level works, which are the ones you can see on display in the exhibit. After the exhibit closes next month, the Gold Key pieces will go to New York to be judged in the national competition. Trust me and do yourself and your kids a big favor — see the exhibit! Every year I leave mesmerized and inspired by the high-caliber work of art by young kids. If you didn’t walk in already knowing that the works on display were by the hands of junior high and high school students, you’d easily assume that much older, well-seasoned, professional artists created them … which makes the viewing experience extra awe-inspiring.

The wonderful thing about art is how something so still in its frame can grip you emotionally whether it’s good or bad, whimsical or terrible. Taking children, even young children, to art galleries is a great way to engage their imaginations. For you, moms and dads, it can become an interesting journey — and sometimes a comical one — to discover what your kids are really processing when asked what they think about a work of art. And the same piece of visual art can mean something different to everyone. Go explore and discover with your kids!

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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