HUNTERSVILLE – Twenty students from Southlake Christian Academy were given the opportunity to showcase some of their artistic talents May 7 at the Mint Museum.

The students presented a mix of artwork, including drawings, sculpture and poetry, at the museum’s Randolph location. This particular location has been around since 1936 and includes a comprehensive collection of ancient American artwork, modern-day artwork and everything in between.

Rina Norwood, SLCA visual arts director, said 50 students from middle and high school for the first time presented artwork at the Mint exhibit.

“SLCA artwork has not been featured at a museum before. This was the school’s fine arts program first invitation to the Mint Museum,” she said. “The students work could only be featured if it met three criteria: excellence in craftsmanship, presentation and above grade-level artwork.”

Prior to the acceptance from the museum, the middle and high school students were required to present their artwork to a panel of judges from the Association of Christian Schools International. 

“The students’ artwork really does stand out. The execution and quality of their work is beyond grade level,” Norwood said. “It speaks so highly about what they are doing.”

Some of the talented students who had their artwork on display at the Mint were graduating senior Woody Woodruff, junior Anna Shuldt, sophomore Cayla Metzger and freshman Andrew Garner.

One of Woodruff’s pieces is titled, “The Selfie,” which uses mixed media of markers and graphite. The piece is a contemporary self-portrait of Woodruff himself and follows the cubism art approach.

“The piece is an interesting creation of myself taken to new heights. It is half realistic, half abstract,” Woodruff said. “I like to take things and make them my own. I do not like to redraw what is already out there.”

Woodruff said it was pretty unreal and exciting to see his work presented at the museum.

He excels in graphic design and recently got accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is looking to pursue a career in fine arts.

“He was one of the select few encouraged to apply to the Savannah College of Design,” Norwood said. “He presented a total of four art pieces that were part of his submission portfolio for SCAD, UNC and N.C. State. All three universities accepted him into their Bachelors of Fine Arts program.”

Shuldt, who enjoys creating portraits, will attend the Young Artist Residency program this summer at the Lesley School of Fine Arts in Boston, where she will take college-level art courses.

Regardless of her young age, Metzger is considered a commission-level artist, meaning she is eligible to receive pay for her work. She excels in all areas of the art discipline.

“Metzger presented four different pieces made of graphite, ink and acrylic,” Norwood said. Her ink portrait of the black and white woman was created with no other tools, except her fingerprints, and was chosen as the art piece for the school’s promotion media for the Mint exhibit.”

Garner promoted his artistic skills at the Mint Museum, displaying custom design hand paintings.

The fine arts program at South Lake Christian Academy also consists of a music department. The student orchestra accompanied the young artists, performing during the Mint exhibit.

The staff constantly looks for ways to improve the fine arts program. They strive to build onto the department every year.

“We plan to expand in the arts and hopefully add challenging, theory-based studio classes where students will need a portfolio and pre-requisite classes to take them,” Norwood said. “Our goal is for the students’ artwork to make it into the community to share their work and love for art with others in a gallery setting.”

Joel Smeltzer, school programs director of the Randolph Mint Museum said the museum partners with public and private schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region year-round to establish art shows.

“Art teachers typically organize a reception with our assistance at the museum to promote families and community members to come out to see an art show,” Smeltzer said.

The presentation of the artwork at the museum provided teachers a means to promote their visual art program and connect with the museum.

“It was so empowering to see the students exhibit their work in this kind of setting,” Smeltzer said. “I do see potential in these students as art makes a viable career.”  

The director said the students were very pleased to have their work on display in a setting other than school hallways. Their artwork is well respected in the community.

“It really elevates the art,” he said. “The students themselves, museum staff and the surrounding community can look at their work shared with others in a unique space.”

Woodruff says art is a medium in which people can express themselves and come together to create something new.

As he says, “Art is where new ideas are born."