Displayed in the Concourse Gallery at the Dallas Museum of Art is a collection of artwork created by sixty-five of Dallas’ most talented high school students. The exhibition includes original works by Advanced Placement Studio Art, Art History, and Music Theory students selected by art and music professionals out of 896 submissions from ten Dallas-area high school. On March 17, ten of the students gathered at the Dallas Museum of Art to discuss the development of their work.
Inspiration came in many forms. Plano East Senior High School’s Sandy Bush crafted Magpie, a piece made of over 50 pens, after a magpie stole her friend’s pen, but anatomy was her guiding principle in creating this piece.
“For me, it governs how I use the pieces I actually have. So with the pens, I noticed that they were elongated similar to feathers. So I had to bend that into other parts of the anatomy of the bird,” Bush said.
For Tin Can Toucan, Lori Nguyen, a student at Plano East Senior High, combined two unexpected elements.
“I thought the idea of industrial versus nature would be a cool concept. So taking an organic form and making it more geometric. I’m inspired by buildings, the structure of buildings and the organic framework of animals,” Nguyen said.
Brenna Tracy from Colleyville Heritage High School used her own growth as an artist as inspiration for her ink wash piece, Rain.
“I really got serious in art in middle school, around seventh grade and just the improvement in my art over that period of time changed me as a person. I found a way to express myself and find something I love and do hopefully for the rest of my life,” Tracy said.
Working with unusual materials challenged the students. Creekview High School’s Shaun Houpy was fortunate to inherit necessary materials to create Wind Between My Fingers, a musical piece of jewelry made of nickel, brass and embroidery thread.
“It actually came about because it’s what I had an abundance of. I had a friend who graduated and passed along a lot of his materials to me,” Houpy said.
JoAnn Nguyen from Plano East Senior High School and Taskeen Zehra from Creekview High School learned new skills to create their pieces.
“Before this, I wasn’t sure how to use wood tools or use wood in general. It was really an experience because I had to learn how to use chop saws and sanders and how to use a nail gun,” Nguyen explained about creating Leaf Shelf, a small-scale leaf-shaped bookshelf.
Zehra’s Bicycle Glasses presented a specific challenge. “Soldering. That’s the part I struggled with. I don’t know why it is, but my teacher is very helpful with it. She would always help us. Soldering and also sawing. It was very hard to saw really straight,” Zehra said.
The process of creating Violet, a glazed ceramic self-portrait, was a personal journey for Creekview High School’s Violet Smith.
“I hated every second of making her actually. Well, one because she was taking so long and I’m very rushed when I’m making art. I bust it out and make as much as I can. But when I was making her, I had to sit there and stare at myself and explain her to everybody who saw me working on her. And I think over time it took a toll, you know? After a while I was like, ‘Wow, this is taking forever!’ It made me question myself as an artist because I was having to explain my art to other people so often and I feel like that’s something artists struggle with,” Smith said.
Creating this art has changed the perspective of three students from Plano West Senior High on the artistic world and their futures.
“I still listen to music appreciatively and it’s not drastically different. But I’m now able to listen to music and draw some ideas for future compositions or look at it for inspiration,” Kevin Bai who composed Autumn Winds said.
Megan Shen wrote an art history essay, An Artist’s Reality about Alberto Giacometti’s Three Men Walking, and reflected on how art connects people from different eras.
“I think that in modern society, we definitely have a more technology-driven and fast-paced world. When people are feeling increasingly more isolated and looking for their identity, I think it is very easy to relate to a different historical period where people are feeling similar emotions,” Shen said.
Jake Parker-Howe has ambitions of improving after composing DLM 3659. “Mainly I hope I’ll get better at writing it so I can do it more and ideally get income. That’s not why I write music, but that would be nice to have,” Parker-Howe said.
The Young Masters Exhibition will be on display through April 16. Learn more at www.dma.org.
Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.