by DeeGee Lester
For the 27th year, Cheekwood hosted the Scholastic Art Competition and Exhibition for Middle Tennessee. A program of the prestigious Alliance for Young Artists and Writers (est. 1923), this national competition recognizes and celebrates exceptional young artists, grades 7–12. This year 922 students from 264 area schools, programs, and institutions submitted 1,602 works of art. Gold and Silver Key Awards are given in eleven categories, with five American Vision nominees (listed below) moving on to the national competition.
Senior, Franklin High School
Tierra y Libertad (Printmaking)
Most Scholastic Art submissions focus on contemporary issues, images, and the people and objects students encounter in their own lives. Franklin High School senior Ashlyn Anderson opted to reach back into history to create a powerful print image that captures and engages the viewer on multiple levels.
Anderson’s passion for thinking creatively and expressing herself captured two Gold Key Awards, but it was her reaction to a unit in AP History about the Mexican Revolution that sparked the idea that catapulted one of those pieces to an American Vision nomination.
“Mexican identity and symbols were apparent in every facet of that war, and my goal with Tierra y Libertad was to tie the meanings and symbols together in the face of one man,” says Anderson. “Beneath the death tolls and the savagery of war, there are people. I want to make viewers stop and reflect and identify with this man.”
Her technique echoing the tradition of Realismo Mágico (Magic Realism) startles the viewer with multiple layers—clues, phantom images, and embedded symbols scattered throughout the image as details of the man’s face and clothing. The impact is a compassionate and unforgettable statement on war.
That compassion for people is also reflected in Anderson’s career goal to attend Samford University in Birmingham and to become a nutritionist, while finding ways to keep and incorporate art into her life and work.
Senior, Hendersonville High School
Submerged Mother (Painting)
The unique quality and unusual perspective of Haley Gill’s painting, Submerged Mother, captured the 2018 Scholastic Art Awards program cover, catching the artist off guard as she entered the exhibition hall. “It was everywhere, staring back at me,” she laughs.
The American Vision nomination was one of Gill’s five awards (including three gold and two silver), and a portion of the focus of her AP Art class at Hendersonville High School. AP students may consider their strength and breadth in various mediums, but are required to create twelve works around one topic.
As an approach to her work, Gill experimented with vibrant colors, looking at the values and assigning different colors to each value. The results in the customary appearance of features such as skin tone are astonishing.
“My topic centers around a concentration on the sentimental value of childhood memories and stimulation,” she explains. Submerged Mother reflects her childhood memory of a mother’s purity and pride. “My mom holds herself with pride and her partial submersion in the tub reflects her clean image.”
The American Vision nomination is another step toward a career in art. Gill plans to expand her portfolio and attend a community college before transferring to a university.
Senior, Summit High School
Unlike other students in the Scholastic Art Competition, American Vision nominee Reed Herring admits that for years he “wasn’t interested in art at all” and had his focus on a career in engineering. However, by midway through his sophomore year, the Summit High School student realized he “hated” engineering and switched to photography—a field in which he would like to “make a career.”
Over the past two years, Herring has explored mediums including digital design and graphic communication. “That last one is new this year. Our class will be the guinea pigs for that one,” he laughs.
Herring’s American Vision nomination, Ollie, captured a moment in the rambunctious activities of Oliver—one of the photographer’s twin nephews. “I was lucky with that pose, including capturing that little flash of light in his eye as he peeked out from behind the window shade.”
Although Herring’s photography has focused on portraiture and creating art within that medium, he admits his dream career would be as an editorial photographer in the mold of iconic Life and Look photographers from the past, but admits, “In the digital age those careers don’t exist. You don’t have one photographer covering an event; you have a bunch, so my photography will be for me, with a career in graphic arts.”
He is considering two years at a community college before transferring to his dream college—Savannah College of Art and Design.
Senior, Hendersonville High School
A Charcoal Study (Painting)
When the parents of Deianera and Aloura Smith asked doctors about the weird noises exchanged between the six-month- old twins while coloring, they were told the babies were “connecting senses.” Inspired by that remark, the parents
enthusiastically encouraged their daughters’ artistic endeavors. The results were years of classes and awards, including the recent Scholastic Awards (Aloura—one gold; Deianera—three gold, four silver, and an American Vision nomination).
“My sister is very good at art, too,” says Deianera. “We’re always in competition with each other. She inspires me.” Her own prolific output can be measured in the accumulation of awards across a variety of arts categories, but she admits painting is her favorite.
“It’s the most challenging in many ways, but also the easiest in allowing you the opportunity to work on a portion, then go back and see things and fix them, painting over and over until you are satisfied.”
Smith spends as much time as possible on her art, whether it’s her AP project (with a focus on hands, as in A Charcoal Study), or building her portfolio. Art is the place where she feels the most confident.
That confidence was bolstered by attending Governor’s School for the Arts. “The teachers would make you question what you do and why, and explore new angles and find new ways to be creative.”
After graduation, Smith plans to attend APSU and to become an art teacher.
Senior, Hume Fogg Academic Magnet
Never Too Old (Photography)
Beginning six years ago as a hobby, photography lured Hume Fogg’s Madison Weathers to take “one class just for fun” during her final year, and the result was a Scholastic Art Competition submission, a Gold Key award, and an American Vision nomination. “I was totally surprised,” says Weathers.
In addition to the excitement of the Scholastic Art Competition, Weathers says she has enjoyed her class tremendously. “Taking this class allowed me to find meaning, to think on a deeper level, and to consider things visually, rather than as subject matter for a photo. I learned how to fully appreciate others’ art and vision, but also to visualize my thoughts and display meaning through something without words.”
Her award-winning image, Never Too Old, captures her 93-year-old great grandmother in a moment that resonates with generations. Through her images, including those she captures on mission trips to places like Uganda, Haiti, and Equador, Weathers’ goal is to help viewers see themselves in the faces and journeys of others. “Photography allows me to step outside my comfort zone; to have a new perspective on the world.”
After graduation, she plans to attend East Tennessee State University where she will major in chemistry and then pursue a career in forensics, but her camera will always be within reach.