Graduation was a tough on Maryville High School art teachers this year.
Sure, it is always emotional saying so long to seniors, but all three teachers said the art students they watched grow from freshman to 2011 seniors have consistently impressed them.
“It has gotten better and better over the years,” art teacher Debbie Allen said. “We had a real strong group of seniors and it was hard to let them go.”
Art teacher Raquel Roy said the students’ work has improved substantially over the years, and she said this was especially evident when looking at the quality of the seniors’ pieces compared to when they were freshmen.
“We’re looking at definitely college-level work, and that’s an understatement,” she said. “What we have in art now is nothing compared to what we had five years ago.”
Jeanie Parker, head of the art department, said that at the beginning of each school year students start asking about the end-of-year, juried art show “It gets bigger and bigger, and the kids get so excited,” she said.
The annual juried art show at Maryville High School wraps up the year with a chance for parents, friends, students and the public to come and view the exhibited work that ranges from photography and paintings to sculpture to mask-making. Judges for the juried show were Bill Womac of Boyd Thomas Clothing, who is also an artist; and Katie Gamble, executive director of the Maryville Arts Coalition.
Roy said the art displayed was work the students have completed since the beginning of the school year. Some of it will be in competition at the Tennessee Valley Fair in the fall, Roy said.
Allen said some of the seniors will be attending art schools next year. “It is good to see them doing something with their talents,” she said.
Allen said she encourages the students to consider careers in the arts because artists are used in all facets of business from the designs in clothing to the graphics on a printed page. “Everything has been touched by an artist in some way, and people don’t think of the opportunities artists have in this world.”
Womac is a artist and member of the board of directors for the Maryville Art Coalition, the organization that puts on the monthly Last Friday Art Walk.
“I’m very much a proponent of the arts in Blount County,” said Womac. “We do all we can to promote it through Fine Arts Blount and Maryville Arts Coalition, and we display Maryville High School students’ art in our store,” he said. “It is inspiring in that there is a substantial amount of talent in our schools.”
Katie Gamble, executive director of MAC, said the organization also raises funds for scholarships for students intent on pursuing a career in the arts. Students Elizabeth Gombert and Sophia Morgan were awarded the $500 scholarships this year.
Senior Amber Byrum’s painting won the grand prize. She collected a $125 cash prize from Blount Today.
Byrum said she has taken an art class every year of high school, but didn’t expect to win the grand prize. “I was very surprised,” she said.
Roy was impressed with Byrum’s work and her good attitude. “Even though she has great skills, she’s not afraid to let you push her and encourage her to take it to the next level,” Roy said. “Her skill has definitely increased from her freshman to her senior years. I’m very proud of her.”
Amber Byrum’s mother, Barbara Byrum, was told beforehand that her daughter was the winner. “I was very excited, but I had to keep it a secret,” Barbara Byrum. “She’s an amazing person all the way around.”
At the show, students milled around the library and enjoyed refreshments with their parents and friends as everyone checked out the work. Nicole Sudman, a junior, has been taking art since her freshman year. “I want to be a marine biologist and open my own art gallery,” she said. “I want to be a marine biologist and paint marine life.”
Her mom, Kari Sudman, said she was proud of Nicole’s work and said the talent runs in the family. “I love it. Her grandmother Millie Sudman is a fabulous artist in Townsend,” she said.
Isaac Titlow, a sophomore, stood with his parents by a sculpture he completed. “I think it is cool,” he said. “I think it is really fun.”
His dad, Marvin Titlow, said. “It brought out a side of him we didn’t know was there.”
Parker said that the art teachers get to see a side of the students that teachers of other subjects don’t see. “We get to the opportunity to see another side of the students,” she said. “We get to see what is meaningful to the kids.”
Senior Scarlett Hanover has plans to pursue her art after high school. “I’m going to school at Maryville College, and I’ll be going there to pursue art,” she said.
Senior Sophia Morgan was surprised by which of her entries won. “I didn’t expect my 3-D to get anything,” she said. “It has been a good night.”
Sophomore Carissa Hill’s sculpture was recognized as the Assistant Principal Joe Pinkerton’s pick. “I want to go into graphic design and illustration,” she said.
Students who won an honorable mention were awarded $15 each.
The following students were recognized with honorable mention certificates: Photography - Mallory Williams
Painting - Aleyse McNeilly
3-D - Kayla Snyder
Drawing - Steve Morrison
Art I - Matthew Brown Lee.
Students who won as runners up were awarded $25 each.
Photography - Amber Lawson
Painting - Aleyse McNeilly
3-D - Isaac Titlow
Drawing - Amber Lawson
Art I - Maiah Reeves
Students who won first prize were awarded $50 each.
Photography - Georgie McCarthy
Painting - Elizabeth Gombert
3-D - Sophia Morgan
Drawing - Scarlett Hanover
Art 1 - Anna Clark.
Grand prize winner of $125 was Amber Byrum.
Sponsors for the annual juried show include Blount Today, Boyd Thomas Clothing, Dandy Lions Gifts, Tomato Head restaurant, the Maryville High School cafeteria and the Maryville High School Drama Department.