Budding Artists Keep Art Scene Alive

By:  Jonathan Bryant


Art By: Hannah Crews


This past weekend, Malone Gallery was home to an altogether different, yet equally impressive, kind of art.

The Troy University Department of Art and Design hosted the Visual Arts Achievement Program (VAAP) exhibition and competition on Saturday, March 2.

The exhibit is unique in that it includes works from area junior high schools and high schools, primarily consisting of students from sixth through 12th grade.

Greg Skaggs, assistant professor of art and design, served as coordinator for district 2 of the competition for the first time in the event’s eight-year history at Troy University.

“We always get great responses, and the teachers that bring their students’ work are just wonderful people,” Skaggs said.

“I was just privileged to be a part of that this year.”

Skaggs took over responsibilities as coordinator for the exhibit from art education instructor Larry Percy, who is on sabbatical.

Students were further subdivided into seven main categories including: drawing, painting, computer images, photography, mixed media, 3D and printmaking.

First, second and third place were selected from each category of both divisions, as well as three wild card winners.

The Department of Art and Design staff will do the actual judging for the top three positions, while art education students held the responsibility of choosing the wild card winners.

2013 marks the second year that the exhibit has been on display at Troy University as opposed to its original home at Auburn University at Montgomery.  Malone offers a distinctive experience for local middle school and high school students to experience a nearby gallery show consisting of their own works.

The event doubles as a recruitment tool for the university, as it generates interest for the department within up-and-coming artists in the county.

That spark of interest, according to Skaggs, is more important to an aspiring artist than anything.

“It’s funny how I look back on when I was their age and how I got involved in the arts, and it truly was because of an art teacher who took interest,” Skaggs said.

“I was very fortunate that I had a teacher who really encouraged me to push my own talent, and that’s what I saw in these teachers and their students.  That wonderful relationship that I think is so important.”

Contrary to popular belief, the arts are alive and well within Pike County, and across the state of Alabama as a whole.

Skaggs said that it was because of events such as the VAAP exhibition that the local artistic community can continue to thrive.

“It’s important that they realize that there is an alternate to sports, and the arts are very much alive in Alabama and the South,” Skaggs said.

“It’s exciting, and it’s a privilege to live in a state where there is recognition for the arts.”

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