The work of six Tooele County students will be displayed alongside the best in the state — nearly 350 displays by top high school artists — in a month-long exhibit that a Springville Museum of Art curator said is one of the best annual showings the museum has to offer.
“I feel like the high school show continually surprises our visitors,” Ashlee Whitaker, an associate curator at the Springville Museum of Art, said. “It’s a fun show. It has a real energy to it that a lot of our other exhibitions don’t have. It really is remarkable.”
This is the 40th year the Springville Museum of Art has hosted the annual All-State High School Art Show, which seeks to represent the best, most innovative artists coming out of Utah’s high schools. Each of the 345 accepted artists were nominated by their high school art adviser before a panel of professional artists made the final cut.
Four county schools were represented in the art chosen for this year’s show, including the first ever accepted from Wendover High School as well as works from Stansbury, Tooele and Grantsville high schools.
Wendover High school’s Rovi Hidalgo never though she would be one of the first students to represent her school at a state-level art competition. Though she has been drawing for most of her life, 18-year-old Hidalgo, a high school senior, never thought of herself as the type to display her work at a juried exhibition. Before her art teacher nominated her submission, a pastel drawing titled “The Glass,” Hidalgo had never entered her drawings in any public showing.
However, Hidalgo said her recent success at the all-state show has inspired greater confidence in her creativity.
“I’m not sure what other opportunities will be presented, but I will take them,” Hidalgo said.
“The Glass” is a simple sketch of a perfume bottle with a unique color that caught her eye and inspired her to attempt to replicate the strange hue, Hidalgo said.
“The bottle was red,” Hidalgo said. “But if you really looked at it, you could see that it was composed of a dozen other colors, and I wanted to portray that.”
After graduating this spring, Hidalgo plans attend Salt Lake Community College for general studies before moving to California to pursue training in interior design.
Other student artists selected to represent Tooele County at the all-state show have more experience with entering juried competitions. Stansbury High School’s Olivia Juarez, 18 and a senior, entered the all-state competition last year, but was originally rejected. This year will be her first appearance at the exhibit.
Juarez started painting last year, but already she has found her art classes often offer something other subjects do not. Unlike some other classes, Juarez said, there is always something new to try in art.
“Art satisfies my yearning to learn,” she said. “Art doesn’t allow me to get bored.”
The painting Juarez had accepted into the all-state exhibition — a self-portrait depicting Juarez’s face smeared with blood, a symbol of the pressure she felt to perform at school — is a watercolor she created for an art class. However, in her free-time, Juarez said she prefers to draw with chalk pastels.
“They’re very free-flowing,” Juarez said. “I like oil painting, but I don’t feel as free with them. It’s a whole different technique.”
Juarez is the SHS visual arts sterling scholar nominee and plans to double-major in art and political science when she enters college. She has been accepted to the University of Utah and will attend there if she is not accepted to UCLA.
Grantsville High School’s only all-state representative, another newcomer to the world of arts, also prefers an entirely different medium. While her counterparts draw or paint, 17-year-old senior Jamee McNeill prefers to work in three dimensions.
Her clay sculpture, titled “Home to the Silent,” began as a school assignment to sculpt a home, but McNeill’s adviser suggested McNeill take the project a step further with her own unique flair.
“I was just going to make a regular bird house, but my art teacher told me to do something crazy,” McNeill said. “So I made it kind of creepy — it’s more tall and it leans to the side, just because I like creepy and mysterious things.”
When McNeill picked up pottery a little over a year ago, she originally signed up for the class to complete some required arts credits, but she found pottery allowed her a form of expression she lacked in other subjects.
“I have a hard time with words,” McNeill said. “But when you build something, it speaks for you.”
McNeill now plans to pursue a degree in elementary education with a minor in pottery, and she hopes to share her newfound love for art with her future students.
Other students to represent Tooele County Schools include Stansbury High School senior Amanda Howa, who entered an oil painting titled “Orchid,” Tooele High School’s Whitney Chevalier, who entered a watercolor titled “Summer’s Day,” and Kristin Hendrix, also from Tooele High School, who entered a photograph titled “Golden.”