“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”                             - Pablo Picasso

The Youth Art Exhibit at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council’s River North Gallery is about celebrating the imaginative spirit of local artists.

The exhibit, which will be open to the public though April 2, features the artwork of students from the Stephenville Independent School District and displays an array of subjects on a variety of medium including foil, paper mache, oil pastel and pencil. The event is being held in conjunction with Youth Art Month (March.)

Students presented their work to friends and family at a reception held at the gallery Monday night and proud parents, and art lovers alike, completed ballots to nominate their favorite piece for the People’s Choice Award. The winner will be named April 3 and will walk away with a cash prize.

Although only one winner will take the prize, art teachers from SISD agree that for minds both young and old, art offers an opportunity to enhance and develop skills essential to growth, development and self-expression.

Emily McLemore, who helps inspire 110 students at Stephenville High School, including special needs students, said art offers students who struggle in certain areas a chance to be their best.

“I believe that art is the great equalizer in education,” McLemore said.  “Students who are frustrated in traditional courses can find their creative outlet in the arts. A student who can’t read, can paint a detailed picture that tells a story, a student who struggles in math can learn proportions while manipulating clay to form a figure. These principles apply to not just the visual arts, but all arts.”

Donna Wesson, art teacher at Gilbert Intermediate, said art also offers the creator a chance to confidently stand alone and explore their inner self.

“I feel that art is important not only in education but also in life because it is a means of personal expression of self and nature,” Wesson said. “It is also a release in that the artist can find time alone within him or herself to think, understand and realize his or her own potential.”

Most of Wesson’s sixth grade art students created a wooden stool for the exhibit, thanks to help from McCoy’s Building Supply. The store donated materials and assisted the students in building their wooden perches. The students then put a personal touch on the stools using paint or stain.

Students from Henderson Junior High also submitted their work under the guidance of Kimber Smith. And McLemore’s students from the National Arts Honor Society stepped up to help make the show a success by donating their time during Spring Break to hang the work.

CTFAC Executive Director Stacy Smith is encouraging the community to stop by the gallery, located at 204 River North Boulevard, to take a look at the exhibit.

“We are displaying some real quality work this year. The art teachers have done an exemplary job with the students,” Smith said. “The art should be seen and appreciated, it’s important for the community to come support these kids.” 

And the teachers are singing the praises of the arts council.

“I love the fact that we have a gallery where students are welcome to contribute to the community,” Wesson said. “The Youth Art Exhibit is an excellent way to put their work in front of the public and encourage them to continue to improve their skills.”

McLemore said the gallery offers a chance to share their creations with a wider audience.

“The Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council allows our students a venue for their art that is special,” McLemore said. “By having a true exhibit, the students understand that their work is important. While it is great to have the students’ work on display at the respective schools, by taking the work to a gallery, the students see that not only do they value their work, but others do, as well.”