Students from across the region have come together to create the Tyler Museum of Art’s largest-ever High School Art Exhibition.

In its 15th year, the exhibition will give 109 students from 20 high schools the chance to have their work displayed in a professionally curated and juried gallery.

A group of four volunteers spent their time after school helping the museum’s curators frame nearly 100 of the works to be on display.

Education Coordinator Lisa Horlander said T.K. Gorman High School students Mary Lynn Breedlove, Megan Breedlove and Anya Ranido and Whitehouse High School senior Perri Marshall helped create an unforgettable moment for the artists in the gallery.

“It was probably later in college before I had my work framed,” Horlander said. “There’s a feeling of pride knowing what it looks like in a professional setting.”

Framing is also expensive, especially for large pieces, so the gallery being able to provide frames helps schools enter a competition that would otherwise be cost prohibitive.

Horlander helped Marshall as she framed her own art piece, a colorful take on a self-portrait, which was a marked departure from the graphite art she previously entered.

“I wanted to do something completely different from last year,” she said. “So I set my phone on the ground and started posing.”

TMA Communications Coordinator Jon Perry said being able to host the exhibit was made possible through a National Endowment for the Arts grant and the Ralph & Mary John Spence Exhibition Fund.

In addition to the juried awards for seniors, the exhibit also has a viewer’s choice award, which visitors can vote on once a day.

Perry said students and family members flock to the gallery to show their support. He said one proud father came to vote once each day, alternating his vote between his three daughters, who all had been selected for the gallery. The exhibit also draws a lot of field trips.

“It’s nice for younger kids; they can come in and see what they’re going to be a part of someday,” Horlander said.

Over the past 15 years more than 1,000 East Texas students have seen their artwork on the gallery walls.

Perry said in the exhibition's first year, just four schools participated.

“There’s just some amazing talent,” Perry said.

The 15th annual High School Art Exhibition opens March 31 with a reception and award ceremony from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., and will continue through May 5.

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Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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