A place on the wall


Seven pieces of art crafted by the hands of AP art students will hang on the coveted walls of the Dallas Museum of Art in the Young Masters Fine Arts Exhibition, only feet away from Monet’s shimmering water lilies and Dali’s melting dreamscapes. Out of 475 artworks submitted from all over the Dallas area, only 43 were selected to be in the exhibit, which opens Feb. 5 in the Concourse Gallery and continues until April 8.

“We had seven here from Plano, four from Plano East, and seven from Plano West,” AP art teacher Kyle Clark said. “Altogether, we almost always have approximately half the show.”

The exhibition, which also includes essays and compositions from AP Art History and Music Theory students, is part of a grant program from the O’Donnell Foundation, dedicated to the fine arts. The AP art students, with the help of their teachers, chose pieces from their portfolios from this year or last year to submit. Professional artists, art historians, and musicians then judged the submissions.

Junior YoungBi Ahn discovered the subject for her black and white winning digital image Rainy Day unexpectedly, while taking pictures for her weekly class assignment.

“We do it every Friday,” junior YoungBi Ahn said. “I just got into my mom’s car to drive to school and it was raining, so I took a picture, and my teacher liked it. I didn’t make up the picture – that’s why it came out nice, I guess. It’s a rare thing. You would never expect your artwork to be displayed in a museum.”

Seniors Jessie Zhou and Melissa Smoot also found inspiration in assignments and won for their graphite drawings Look Up and Dove, respectively. Zhou was to create a foreshortened self-portrait, or a self-portrait distorted or compressed in order to create the illusion of a specific perspective.

“Mine was from a perspective from under, so it looked like someone was looking up to me,” Zhou said. “Finishing it was the hardest part. I was wearing a checkered shirt, and that part was really hard to draw. I basically finished mine in two days.”

Smoot first built a sculpture out of coffee filters and then sketched from the sculpture as well as from photographs and her own imagination.

“[Dove] was a long-term piece because I kept working on it little by little over time,” Smoot said. “My style actually changed while I was working on it, so I had to go back and edit some things to keep it consistent.”

The grant includes scholarship opportunities and pays a portion of the AP fee for winning students. However, for senior Katie Fitzgerald, the best part about winning is simply about having her cardboard and plaster sculpture XYZ in the museum.

“It’s every artist’s dream come true,” Fitzgerald said. “No one knows for sure if it’ll ever happen again, so I am well aware of how lucky I am. My dream school is Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), having grown up in Rhode Island myself. [This recognition] was just what I needed to not only boost confidence in myself but to get me a step closer to RISD.”

Even for the students who are not sure about pursuing an art-related career, having their art selected for the Young Masters exhibit has had a significant impact.

“It’s an incredible opportunity, because the Dallas Museum of Art is an internationally known museum,” Clark said. “To have that on your resume, whether you’re going into art or not, is a great accomplishment.”

Smoot is uncertain as to whether or not she will pursue an art-related career, but having her art selected into the Young Masters exhibit motivates her to continue.

“I was thinking about maybe not continuing art in such a way, but I realized that I do accomplish things in art,” Smoot said. “I think maybe I will have illustration as my side hobby.”

Though Smoot and Zhou already visit the Dallas Museum of Art two or three times every year, their next visit in February will be very different.

“I maybe won’t show strong emotion outside, but I’ll be happy,” Smoot said.