Chalk Art: CHS art students take honorable mention in contest

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Wet sidewalks do not make great canvases for a chalk art contest, but that didn’t keep the competition from pushing ahead.

Eight high school art clubs from Bartow, Cobb and Paulding counties showed up at the Booth Western Art Museum on a rainy Saturday morning to compete in the inaugural High School Art Club Chalk Art Competition as part of the Cowboy Festival and Symposium.

“This event was supposed to take place outside on the sidewalk,” Booth Art Academy Manager Kent Mullinax said. “However, the rain forced us to move indoors. Ironically, the rain actually created an unexpected benefit. Had this event taken place outside as planned, the art would have eventually washed away. Moving inside forced us to buy hardboard for the students to work on. Now the artwork can be saved. We haven’t made a final decision yet on what we will do with the art, but it will eventually be given back to the schools for them to display.”

For three hours, art teams from Adairsville, Cartersville, Woodland, Harrison, Kennesaw Mountain, North Cobb, Walton and Paulding County used sidewalk pastels to create a work of art using the theme “American Western Culture.”

“The Booth staff was absolutely blown away by the quality of the artwork,” Mullinax said, noting the museum plans to host the competition annually as part of the festival. “It was really exciting to see how much fun the students were having and to see the faces of our guests as they watched the teams work.”

When the chalk dust had settled, artist Howard Post, who was in town for the opening of his Booth exhibit titled “The West Observed: The Art of Howard Post,” judged the pieces and selected Harrison as the winner, followed by Paulding County in second place, Walton in third place and Cartersville as honorable mention.

Cash prizes of $500 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place and $150 for honorable mention were awarded, and each winning art club also was given a $150 Blick Art Materials gift card.

The other four participating teams each received a $100 gift card.

Cartersville art teacher Alicia Murray was pleased with taking home honorable mention.

“To receive any award is fantastic, and I love that the students had the opportunity to work together and compete,” she said. “Now that we have a year under our belt, I hope we can place first next year, and it gives us great motivation.”

The team — juniors Jocelyn Blanchett, Zane Bryant, Amber Jenkins, Rebekah Stevens and Chloe Williams and sophomore Megan Tidwell — used an “exaggerated color palette” in their scene that depicted a cowboy riding off into the sunset, Murray said.

“The theme for the contest was the American West, and the students thought a cowboy was the best representation for this piece,” she said. “I think their work was fantastic. After seeing how they worked as a team, I can’t wait to see next year’s creation.”

Jayme Laney, art teacher at AHS, said his team — senior Austin Hammonds, juniors Ebony Arnold and Hannah Turner, who was the art director, and sophomore Brandon Lawhorn — drew a Native American woman on a horse.

Laney said he asked Hannah about the piece, and she said, “Although Native American culture is widely appreciated and admired in today’s society, it is often portrayed as a very submissive or passive culture in that their struggles to obtain their identity is romanticized. With this woman riding a horse, I was trying to break that tradition and the usual perspectives that Native Americans are given, without taking away or discrediting her culture or ancestry. By putting her in more ‘American’ clothing and being the center of attention rather than any other figure, I wanted her to look like she was saying, ‘I can adapt to the changes I’ve endured, and it only makes me more resilient.’”

The art teacher said he was “totally impressed with this whole process.”

“Artists are usually individuals who need complete control of their work,” he said. “However, with this project, four artists had to collaborate in order to be successful. Seeing the struggle, creativity, problem-solving skills and teamwork of these student-artists made this an exciting event for me. I look forward to competing in future competitions with the Booth.”

Mullinax said the museum hosted the competition, which accepted the first eight teams to register, because it has a “responsibility to the community to encourage young people to get involved in art.”

“There are so many time demands on kids these days,” he said. “Art often gets left out. We hope that events like this will show them that art can be exciting, and hopefully that motivates them to include art in their lives.”

Murray said it was “great to get into the community and work together on a project.”

“It teaches the students to think through problems together in a live setting,” she said. “It also adds just enough pressure to make it thrilling and fun. This helps to build confidence in other areas and helps them grow as an artist.”

Laney wanted his students to help promote artistic endeavors in the area.

“As an art teacher, I want to support the arts in our community anyway I can,” he said. “The Booth Western Art Museum is a wonderful treasure right here in Bartow County. Any way we can encourage our students to get involved with the arts is a good thing.”