What happens when you take the talented artists in Abilene ISD and partner with the famous Grace Museum? You get the Young Masters Juried Art Exhibition, a unique scholarship and celebration of student artists.
After missing out last year due to the COVID-19 shutdown, the Abilene Education Foundation was excited to host its 14th Annual AEF Young Masters Juried Art Exhibition opening night on March 25 at The Grace Museum in downtown Abilene. The exhibit ran at the Grace until April 10, when it moved to the Abilene Teachers Federal Credit Union for display until mid-May.
The juried art competition offers an opportunity for every Advanced Placement (AP) Studio Art student in Abilene ISD to submit artwork for a chance to earn a spot in a museum exhibition.
Those selected for the exhibition compete for college scholarships, and this year featured works from 26 students. The goals of the exhibition are to celebrate young master artists and their dedicated teachers with a quality museum exhibition. A combined total of $7,250 in scholarships was awarded to the top winners, including Best in Show. Additionally, two special scholarships were awarded. One scholarship is in honor of the beloved retired art teacher Martha Kiel, who taught in AISD for 34 years, and another in memory of local artist Mike Lanier, who recently passed away.
For many of the artists, it’s their first opportunity to be recognized by the public and to share their works with a broader audience. Each artist is also given a color catalog and flash drive of the exhibit works to use as an important part of their college application submissions if they choose to pursue higher education in visual arts.
AP Studio Art teachers for AISD are Amanda Baldwin, Jason Clements, Sherry Griffith, Melody Kennedy, and April Rifenburgh. Final judging for this year’s event was by professional artist Randy Bacon with the jurors being Dr. Gary Goodnight, Erika Parker and Steve Butnam. Funding for Young Masters comes from several individuals, foundations, and corporations, including a grant from HeARTS for the ARTS administered by the Abilene Cultural Arts Affairs Council and the City of Abilene.
“There is no other program for our art students quite like Young Masters,” said Griffith. “This program gives our AP students opportunities to earn sizable scholarships while validating their artistic talents and giving them the confidence to pursue careers in the arts. The formal exhibition and awards ceremony at The Grace Museum demonstrates to our students, their families, and anyone who visits, that our community values the creative skills and voices of our students. The AP art teachers and students are grateful to the Abilene Education Foundation for establishing and sustaining this invaluable program that supports our efforts in the classroom.”
Contributed By The Abilene Education Foundation