By DAVID BEARDEN
I must fully disclose my position and intent before going any further. I am a high school art teacher — have been so for 17 years. I do not teach in my beautiful hometown of Lewisville, Texas or in Lewisville ISD unfortunately.
I teach art. I make art. I look at, think about and try to make sense, if necessary, of art. It’s a grueling labor of love. I am empowered by those willing to shed their insecurities long enough to put brush to canvas and pen and pencil to paper, to show the rest of us chumps a different perspective. Young and old, we should seek a different perspective. And so, here I am, once again, empowered to tell you about a wonderful art exhibition of LISD students’ creative output. May all our perspectives be skewed just a bit.
The show features 300 plus works by students attending Flower Mound, Hebron, Lewisville, Marcus, The Colony, Harmon and Killough high schools as well as Flower Mound, Hebron and Marcus ninth grade campuses. It is hosted in the MCL Grand Theater’s art gallery in Old Town Lewisville.
The gallery is packed. All works hang salon style one after the other with sculptures residing on the north-windowed wall — so much eye-candy to take in. I visited the gallery on a slow Wednesday afternoon. Thankfully I am off work for spring break one week before LISD, something I can’t remember happening in the past, which means this is my first LISD student art show! And it was well-worth my visit.
It’s important to note how fortunate the students of LISD are to have such an elegant, professional and well-maintained space in which to display their dedication and risk-taking. Art is a risk always. And when you’re young, the risk is intensified.
The City of Lewisville is equally fortunate to claim such budding talent and hardwork: a diverse showing of paintings, drawings, photographs and all layered-chopped-diced-reconstructed inbetweens. I had to make a few initial laps to soak it all in.
Some familiar approaches to art-making and boundary–pushing were quickly evident upon strolling through. A few self–portraits, a few imaginative worlds, a few ceramic-and-found-object mash-ups, a few traditional media applications and a few introspective investigations hang from the walls. They all need validation. The thinly veiled attempt to show the world-at-large just what being a youth in 2017 looks and feels like leaps from the works’ substrate desiring more than a, “Nice work.”
The conversation begins the moment your eyes meet the image. You can’t unsee them, the artists and the work. You push forward eyeballing the 3D work in your peripheral, or that brightly simplistic painting of a burger and fries beckoning you from the other side. The gallery is alive with media exploration, skill demonstration and personal exposure.
A few pieces clearly communicate the breakthroughs made by the student artists. The harnessed skill set is made obvious by the first glance. It’s the longer stare that really grabs you and reveals just how much focus was required. And to the pieces of unconventional flavor or seemingly less polished edges, kudos!
Okay, for a second, back to my full disclosure memo — I tend to drift toward abstracted work, simplified surfaces and color handling, but don’t doubt those precision pieces snatch and hold my attention.
The grab of realism is instant. At first it requires no further pomp and circumstance. But once hooked you look deeper, harder. More is revealed the longer your gaze. I know I couldn’t render my ideas like some of these artists at their age. And to the works of a more experimental approach, so much respect!
I turned 40 in February, and when I was a high school artist wannabe, achieving likeness and photographic imitation was the order of the day. I had yet to learn to think about my art, to expand the definition of art and all it could be. So equal high fives to all the represented young artists regardless of their product style.
If the work shows an evolution, a progression of idea to material and back to idea, it is a success. And even more important than the work itself, the courage to want to display the work is a testament to the trust built between artist and teacher. Well done, LISD art teachers. Your kids’ work is the assessment of your dedication to sharing what you love about visual expression via blood, sweat, tears and art stuffs.
At this point it’s only fair to say that I personally, and hopefully my students too vicariously, benefit from any chance to see firsthand what other young people are making. Artist and art teachers alike only grow when we immerse ourselves in the art lives of others, young and old. It’s a successful version of a trickle-down, an ever-growing and flowing sharefest of ideas and technological process evolution.
To all LISD students involved and all their underpaid teachers, thank you! Thank you for sharing both how and why you do what you do. Our fair city grows with every creative pursuit, every opportunity to foster the often hidden, festering of ideas that are crucial to a progressive track.
The show is up until March 18. Make time to swing by the MCL Grand, 100 N. Charles St., and support the art students of LISD. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and during performances.