Art contest showcases Denton school district’s talent

Art contest showcases Denton school district’s talent

February 18
01:58 2016

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

@kayleighnic0le

It’s only been held for three consecutive years, but the Black History Month art contest held at the MLK Jr. Recreation Center has made a lasting impression on Denton’s youth.

The contest is a way for 6th to 12th-grade students at Denton ISD to show off their artistic abilities while taking a deeper look into the importance of Black History Month.

Recreation specialist Johnathan Smith said the contest started as a way to bring Denton youth together. What began as a small art competition has grown into a much larger event for the center.

“The first year, we only had about five or 10 entries,” Smith said. “Now, we have over 50 entries that were submitted. We aren’t limited to just one or two schools, but instead we are able to showcase talents from students around Denton.”

For the contest, students are given a certain theme to work off of and interpret in their own way. This year the topic is “Freedom is Within Us.”

Using everything from colored pencils and crayons to watercolor and acrylics, students were able to run with the motif in any direction they saw fit.

Smith said the judging has been taking place this week. Specific judges will give out first, second and third place medals for each grade. Community members are able to come and put in their input as well.

Results are slated to come out today.

Guyer High School student, Baylee King’s grafite portrait of Martin Luther King speaking, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2015. Kaylen Howard | Staff Photographer. The portrait is currently on display in the MLK civic center for the annual Black History Celebration art competition. The final judgement will be made Feb. 20, 2015.

A graffiti portrait of Martin Luther King speaking by Guyer High’s Baylee King sits on display. Kaylen Howard | Staff Photographer

Guyer High School student Baylee King’s

UNT Multicultural Center director Cheylon Brown is vice-chair of the MLK Advisory Board and is also helping judge the contest.

“We are looking for originality, use of theme and creativity, just to name a few,” Brown said. “The contest provides students an opportunity to be creative, express themselves, take pride in the study and celebration of Black History and confidently utilize skills they’ve learned in their art classes.”

But the students aren’t alone. John H. Guyer High School art teacher and UNT College of Visual Arts and Design alumna Christian Reid has tried working the theme into his curriculum in order to promote the contest to his students and expand their thinking.

“I didn’t want to just hand them the topic and leave it at that,” Reid said. “Together we looked at examples and spoke about different visual interpretations that people associated with ‘Freedom is Within Us.’ It is a topic that can take on so many forms, and I wanted to be there to help them dive deeper.”

Reid said the contest doesn’t only provide an artistic outlet for students, but it also makes them realize their work means something. By accepting a wide range of submissions, the contest paves the way for students all over Denton to showcase their hard work and efforts throughout the semester while learning more about Black History Month.

“I want my students to feel encouraged that they are more than ready to make their mark on this world with their art,” Reid said. “Sometimes they can be unsure of where they stand, but this is positive reinforcement that they matter and can make a difference in the world of art.”

Featured Image: Upside down art of two different world views is just one piece currently on display in the MLK civic center for the annual Black History Celebration art competition. Kaylen Howard | Staff Photographer

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