Showcasing the Next Generation of Artists

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Photo courtesy of Kyle Marie McMahon


The Fine Arts League of Cary (FALC) uplifted and supported emerging artists on May 18 when they hosted their annual Teen Exhibition in the Frankie G. Weems Gallery at Meredith College. The event featured 170 amazing works of art created by teens from Wake County high schools, showcasing a variety of mediums from drawing and painting to textiles and ceramics. The event gathered works from 18 different high schools and 36 art educators. Some teachers gave their students a prompt, while others approached students about a specific piece. For many of the students, it was the first time their art has been showcased in an exhibition or even seen beyond the classroom setting.

Organizer Slater Mapp, an art teacher at Green Level High School and faculty member at Meredith, says the event is not only a way for the community to support students and teachers, but it is also a stepping stone for the young artists. “The work is judged by artists, is in a professional gallery space and gives students a glimpse of what the world of work looks like in the arts,” says Mapp.

The winning entries were announced at a reception on May 18, awarding money for the best pieces in several categories, with matching portions going to the winning schools’ art programs. Meredith College granted three $1000 scholarships, and Jerry’s Art-a-Rama offered additional monetary awards.

Trinity Akyea, a sophomore at Enloe High School, stands beside her untitled work (bottom, with black mat).
Miranda McCullough, a junior at East Wake Academy, stands beside her painting Fallen.

While winning was an exciting prospect, the students I spoke with were more excited about being showcased in the prestigious space among other talented artists. Trinity Akyea, a sophomore at Enloe High School, says it felt inspiring and expressed her desire to submit to more exhibits. Her untitled piece was done in mixed media and was inspired by aerial acrobats. She says, “It’s exciting for people to see my art. I love seeing how far I’ve come.”

Miranda McCullough credits her teacher, Bekah Wade, for the confidence she’s gained regarding her art. A junior at East Wake Academy, Miranda had been making art since elementary school, but it was when Bekah encouraged her to submit a portfolio for an advanced class that she began taking art more seriously. She wants to submit a bigger piece for next year’s exhibit, but her aspirations for a career blend art and science. “The moment I connected art to engineering was when I saw a video about prosthetics. I want to bring accessibility and art into everyday life,” says McCullough. 

For Wade, the event brings her career full circle. She studied art education at Meredith and exhibited her work in this same gallery when she was a senior. Now an art teacher at East Wake Academy, she beams as she speaks of her students being showcased. “The payout of seeing how well they’ve done… I am more proud of seeing their work here, “says Wade. She encourages everyone to get involved, saying, “Art is a healthy outlet for every student—and adult.”

Parents and teenagers who seek guidance and support in the arts can reach out to local organizations and schools, such as FALC and Meredith College, many of which offer summer programs with an emphasis on career and college.

If you’re interested in student art and artwork, check out Triangle Family’s Student Art Showcase from the May/June 2024 issue. You won’t believe what these kids can do!

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