Students highlighted in Encouraging Art Award Program

Three Dawson Springs High School students represented the school at the annual Sean Wallace Encouraging Art Award Program at Hopkinsville Community College on Thursday. Art teacher Cindy Crider (right) is pictured with Caleb Garrett (from right), who received an honorable mention in technical, Alexa Alshire, who was named first runner-up overall, and Courtney Bayer, who received an honorable mention in portraits.

The creative works of youth artists were on display Thursday in the Hopkinsville Community College Art Gallery.

Sean Wallace, barbed wire artist and motivational speaker, hosted his fifth annual Encouraging Art Award Program to highlight the student’s art and to showcase a few pieces of his own.

“This is the seventh year for my exhibit, but the fifth year for Encouraging Art,” Wallace said. “We’re working on getting students out of their shells. It’s not just about students with a perfect piece of art. We want to get those students that doesn’t think their art is perfect and get them to the place where they think, ‘My art is worthy.’ ”

The grand prize winner was Webster County high-schooler Myra Biswell for her piece called “Skate Away,” which she simply drew because she likes to skate.

First-runner up Alexa Alshire, a student from Dawson Springs High, shared her piece, “Malevolent Spirit,” of a mythological creature called a windego.

“What this meant to me is that no matter how good of a person is they can always change into a beast,” she said.

Another student who participated submitted a watercolor piece called “Holding On” in remembrance of her mother.

“My mom passed away when I was in eighth grade and I wanted to hold on to her memory,” the 18-year-old said, noting that she hopes to build a career around art. “I thought about art therapy for awhile; I’m not for sure yet, but I know that’s where I should go. My mom always said to do something that makes you happy.”

Wallace, a native of Jamaica, said he hopes the event continues to grow in the number of participants and art styles that are on display.

“I really want to open the door to all mediums,” Wallace said. “Art is art whatever medium that they choose. I want everybody to feel like they’re a winner.”

Along with the awards, Wallace unveiled two new pieces of barbed wire art, a cowboy hat and a kettle pouring into a teacup.

“I have sat on my art for awhile,” he said. “But this year, it’s like I woke up and it’s time for me to get back into it. There’s a fire underneath me to reach the world with a message behind it.”

To the crowd, Wallace said he remembers being looked over and not knowing if he was worthy. That’s what led him to start creating art with barbed wire.

“I know everybody goes through something in their life and feels just like the barbed wire,” he said. “The dump doesn’t even want it, but here it is hanging on the wall being a masterpiece.”

Judges for the student contest were Ron McCraw, former art gallery owner, and Joan Demers, director of the Janice Mason Art Museum in Cadiz.