High school students show off creativity in LMU art exhibit

Published 10:19 am Monday, November 13, 2023

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By Jordan Brooks


Numerous area high school students got the chance to showcase their artwork recently at the LMU Arts in the Gap high school exhibition that ran Oct. 16 to Nov. 3.

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This year marked the fifth year for the event.

“We felt that this would be an opportunity for local young artists to get a taste of exhibiting their work in a professional art space,” said Michael Giles, associate professor and program director of art.

Each year, LMU announces the call in September or early October. Students then have several weeks to submit their work online. Usually, the students know the show is happening so they have the opportunity to collect their best pieces from the last year to submit. Once the accepted pieces are decided, an email is sent to their high school teacher to advise them of the students that will be participating.

There is no theme, as the goal of the art show is to showcase the creativity. However, to submit a work the work must have been completed within the last two to three years, and hasn’t been in a previous iteration of the high school exhibition.

The call is open to all high school students in the general LMU area. In the past LMU has had schools from the east Tennessee, southeastern Kentucky and southwest Virginia, as well as a few submissions from students enrolled in homeschool programs.

This year LMU had entries from five schools: Barbourville in Kentucky, and J. Frank White Academy, Cumberland Gap, Claiborne and Lenoir City, all in Tennessee.

“I don’t have the exact numbers from each school, but there were over 60 students that applied and over 100 works of art were submitted,” said Giles. “Each student can submit up to three pieces for consideration from any art medium, except video or installation as we don’t have the technological capacity for that type of art. But any of the traditional 2D and 3D artforms are open for submission.”

Once each student has submitted their artworks, the LMU Art faculty review the submissions. The work is chosen for artistic merit, based on technique, message, craft, and general excellence. According to Giles, it is a difficult task as there are many talented young artists in the area, and typically only about 30-40 pieces of those submitted are chosen.

Once the work is hung, there is an arts professional jurying the work to give the prizes. There have also been local artists, curators, and arts directors jury in the past.

“This year we had two Art graduates for LMU jury the exhibition. Addi Kirkpatrick and Megan Lefevers graduated a couple of years ago in Art from LMU,” said Giles. “And have since opened an art studio and coffee shop called Mountain Mugs in Middlesboro.”

This year, Giles says they had the truly difficult task of choosing the top three prizes and honorable mention recipients. LMU gives each awarded student a small gift and the top three receive a cash award of $100, $75 and $50.