Communicating Through Art

Judged with student art from across the Heart of Texas, Clifton High School Senior Cambria Blanton awarded Best in Show at Bosque Arts Center High School Art Show

CLIFTON – Seeing the beauty or interest in things is a gift. Taking those images and putting them onto paper, giving them your own interpretation is a whole other talent and skill set. With their 19th Annual High School Art Show, the Bosque Arts Center Art Council hopes to continue encouraging area high school students to hone their talent and craft.

The show attracted diverse student work in five different categories from Clifton as well as Hamilton, Hico, Whitney and homeschooled students.

“Art is not what you see but what you make others see, and this year's Student Art Show was no different,” BAC High School Art Show Coordinator John Linn said. “The capabilities of these young artists continued in this year's show. From the freshman to the seniors in the show, these young artists continue to hone their skills in creating works of art that makes a person feel good about what's to come."

At the awards reception March 6, area students, together with their friends and family, gathered to admire art from their peers and receive their awards.

"This year's judge, Joseph Barbieri, provided good reviews of the art and explained what and how certain works captivated his interest and appreciation of the artist's technique used," Linn said.

Joseph Barbieri’s work has appeared in such shows as the Mountain Oyster Show, the Salon International Show, the Phippen Museum Show, as well as the Bosque Art Classic, in which Barbieri won the John Steven Jones Purchase Award in 2020. The winning piece is displayed in the permanent collection of the Bosque Arts Center.

When explaining his choices for the winners, Barbieri also gave some pointers to the youthful artists on hand. Best in show chosen by Barbieri out of 38 entries was Clifton High School Senior Cambria Blanton’s pastel work “Inside the Ring” with five faces of a circus.

“This is a first rate job,” Barbieri said. “All five faces are believable, but especially the sad clown. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His eyes show so much feeling and are the center of interest for me.”

The clown’s sad expression behind the comedic make up came from Blanton imagining the other side of a circus; the side which the audience does not see – the hard work of several performances a day, the caring for the animals, the hard life on the road.

In judging the work, Barbieri looked at the technical aspects like technique of materials, good composition, correct anatomy, color selection and use of perspective. But equally important is more subjective to a particular judge, and that is personal preferences in subject matter – “what draws your eye.”

His choice for first place in the Mixed Media category by Blanton – her Toad for “Senor Sapo” hit all the boxes for him in that aspect.

“I like everything about it,” Barbieri said. “It has a very unique background; I love his expression and the texture. There is so much interest in this. It is a piece I would like to take home with me.”

Unfortunately for Barbieri, the piece was designated “NFS” – not for sale, because Blanton wants to keep her toad with attitude herself.

The first place prize in the Drawing category was a portrait of the late Nirvana singer/songwriter Curt Kobain by Hamilton High School’s Tyner Haile.

“I don’t get a lot of warm fuzzies with this piece, but it is brilliant, very powerful,” Barbieri said. “It looks like something is weighing on him, and a sense of surrender, of giving up. And every time when I wonder how an artist achieved something, it’s a good thing. And I was in awe of the technique.”

Blanton, who is always working on her art, and loves to experiment, showed her creative proficiency in the different mediums, entering in four of the five categories.

Her preferred medium is Pencil/Ink/Charchoal Drawing, in which Blanton won second place with a piece called “High Held Chieftman.” On hindsight, it seems she subconsciously channeled her grandfather’s face. The enigmatic expression, the darkness was an immediate attention grabber according to Barbieri.

In addition to excelling in this art competition, Blanton has received gold honors with two pieces in the 2022 Visual Arts Scholastic Event of the Texas Art Education Association.

The TAEA’s mission is to promote quality visual arts education in Texas by promoting visual arts education as an integral part of the curriculum. The TAEA believes that providing art to students at all levels of development is essential because it develops critical and creative thinkers; and visual literacy and self-expression in the visual arts are vital forms of communication in global society.

Research shows that art instruction helps children with the development of motor skills, language skills, social skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness. Visual arts teach learners about color, layout, perspective, and balance: all techniques that are necessary in presentations (visual, digital) of academic work.

Unfortunately, the arts face being squeezed out of schools by a focus on a narrowing range of core subjects. Increasing school budget cuts add to art being eliminated from school curriculums. Luckily, Clifton High School still retains art education as part of its curriculum.

There were just 38 entries in this year’s BAC High School Student Art Show. In the past, there were as many as 70 entries. The decline in entries might be an effect of school cutting their Arts programs, reducing the amount of exposure students have to creative subjects, and therefore knowing less about the joy of self expression, creating something, and communicating through art.

In his talk before presenting the awards, Barbieri said he saw a wide range of subject matter and proficiency levels in the art work. But that the most important thing was that the students had used their art to communicate, that it was a “window to their souls.”

He stressed to the youth that pursuing art is not about winning awards, but using and practicing their innate talent to communicate through their art. He used to tell his students that anybody can learn how the skill and craft, but that not everybody had the gift to be exceptional.

“Of course it is nice to be affirmed,” Barbieri said. “But don’t be discouraged it you didn’t win anything.”

Later, in talking to visitors, Barbieri added that hard and attitude also are very important when pursuing a career in art.

Complete list of first, second and third placed winners at the Bosque Arts Center High School Ark Show:

Best in Show

Pastel – Inside the Ring by Clifton HS Senior Cambria Blanton

Mixed Media

1st place – Senor Sapo by Clifton HS Senior Cambria Blanton

2nd place – Life and Death by Clifton HS Freshman Noel Sonesen

3rd place – A Wanderer by Clifton HS Freshman Sydney Cecil


1st place – A Warm Spring Day by homeschooled ninth grader Rebekah Tyler

2nd place – In Bloom by homeschooled ninth grader Rebekah Tyler

3rd place – Forest Creature by Hico HS Freshman Shiloh Barr


1st place – Inside the Ring by Clifton HS Senior Cambria Blanton

2nd place – Neon Cowboy by Clifton HS Freshman Brenna Bertelsen

3rd place – Farm Landscape by Hico HS Freshman Shiloh Barr                                        


1st place – Kurt Cobain by Hamilton HS Senior Tyner Haile

2nd place – High Held Chieftman by Clifton HS Senior Cambria Blanton

3rd place – Best of Friends by homeschooled ninth grader Rebekah Tyler                                                


1st place – Countryside by Hico HS Junior Cole Barr

2nd place for the group – The Lemon Branch/The Blueberry Branch & The Cherry Branch by homeschooled 12th grader Sarah Tyler

The High School Student Art Show will remain on display at the Bosque Arts Center on 215 College Hill Drive, Clifton through March 18 during regular BAC hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.


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