“It’s floor to ceiling, every wall,” Dumas Art Center director Marti Christman said Monday as she watched art students from Dumas High School (DHS), along with teachers Selenda Hightower and Nancy Angeles, hanging pictures and displaying sculptures and other artwork in preparation for the annual art festival and student art exhibit that has become a May tradition at the center. The exhibit, organized by the DHS Art Club, includes works by all art students attending DHS, Dumas Jr. High, and Dumas Intermediate School. It starts this week and freezes until May 21.
The highlight of the exhibit comes May 14 with the annual Dumas Independent School District (DISD) arts festival, but Christman suggests people get out and have a look early. There is a lot of art to see. There are paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures and other works. Almost all media are represented, according to Angeles.
Students choose their favorite piece(s) from the past year to display. Each must exhibit at least one, but Angeles said some have included more than one. Hightower said there were over 300 art students at DHS alone, so it was likely the number of artworks in the exhibit could exceed 600. “There are a lot of them.”
It’s not easy to hang artwork for an exhibition, especially one of this size. Genesis Cedano, who had several drawings in the exhibit, moved up and down a ladder on Monday as she and her friends tried out different combinations of images to create the best visual effect. There was a lot of discussion about what was best, but it made steady progress and the mountain of artwork in the middle of the central floor steadily shrank over the afternoon.
Included in the exhibit, as always, are the portfolios of senior students, according to Hightower. They are competing for four $500 college scholarships. The winners will be announced at the festival on May 14. Moore County Hospital District (MCHD) CEO Jeff Turner will be the judge this year. The MCHD began funding the scholarships when COVID made it impossible for the Art Club to continue holding fundraising events. Prior to COVID, the club held a number of special events to raise funds for scholarships and other things. The four winners, in addition to the scholarships, will have their work exhibited for a year in the new patient care wing of Memorial Hospital.
The quality of work presented is high, according to Hightower, Angeles and Christman. Seniors Lauren Skipworth and Viriyha Pizzaro both had works that reached state level in student competitions. A number of students intend to continue their art studies beyond high school and include art in their future careers.
There’s a lot going on at the Art Center on May 14, and everyone is welcome to attend, Angeles said. Activities begin at 11 a.m. and last until 4 p.m. Kids of all ages will compete for prizes and boast of sidewalk chalk drawing, speed drawing, speed painting, speed sculpting and hopscotch.
Visitors will not leave hungry or thirsty. As usual, there will be a free lunch of sandwiches, chips, drinks and cupcakes.
The art festival usually draws large crowds. After being canceled due to COVID in 2020, it came back strong last year. The organizers say they hope for even more this year and promise everyone a good time.