TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Tyler Museum of Art is hosting its 16th Annual High School Art Exhibition, which opened behind schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had it ready to go just as the governor issued his order for us to close down, which we did,” said TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy.
The museum reopened May 5 under Gov. Greg Abbott’s Open Texas guidelines, which include limiting occupancy to 25 percent.
The exhibit features works from 98 seniors from 15 East Texas high schools.
“It’s just a fabulous tribute to the students and to their teachers. You can see in these works how the teachers have taken that spark of creativity in the student and really developed it," Leahy said.
And the creativity isn’t limited to the art visitors will see on the wall. Each student also provides an artist statement that includes a description of their work and what it means to them.
“That is very helpful to them and to us. It forces them to write out what they’ve put on the wall,” Leahy said. “The people who come in to see it are fascinated by the quality of their children, their work.”
The high school art exhibit will be on display through June 7 in the museum’s North Gallery. It’s free and open to the public, and Leahy said visitors are welcome to wear masks if they want.
“We haven’t had as many people in as we would like. Our visitation has been steady, but not what we normally see for a show like this," Leahy said.
In addition to pushing the exhibit’s opening to a later date, the museum also had to scrap it’s usual opening reception.
“We typically have a big opening reception. We had planned to do a closing reception, but we’re just not going to be able to do that. We would have 200 people in here and we really just can’t do that,” Leahy said.
The showcase of student talent includes an Up and Coming Category for junior-level art students.
Leahy said one of the differences in this year’s exhibit is that out of 98 pieces, they only have one photograph. As far the other pieces, a variety of media and techniques are on display.
“It’s interesting. This art was done before the virus. I really am interested in seeing what happens next. Next year’s show may tell us something about what the seniors next year have gone through both in being out of the classroom and having had the virus and having not to been able to see their friends,” Leahy said. "Each year, we really anticipate what’s coming up — to see how they’re going to represent it. I think it’s going to be fascinating.
The Tyler Museum of Art has hosted the juried competition since 2005, giving East Texas seniors their first opportunity for a full museum exhibition.