Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
Uptown Gallery in downtown Franklin opened its Macon County Student Art Exhibition last Thursday to celebrate March as Youth Art Month. A reception to showcase the exhibition takes place Saturday, March 11, from 3-5 p.m.
The Main Street gallery will offer the exhibition through March 31. Anyone is welcome to visit the gallery to view dozens of art projects contributed by Macon County students. In fact, Uptown Gallery, which also sells local artists’ works, is open year-round.
According to local artist Carol Conti, a member with Macon County Art Association and the organizer of the Student Art Exhibition, art instructors at thousands of schools nationwide participate in activities surrounding Youth Art Month. Locally, however, Macon County art instructors who encouraged art students’ works this year are: Tracy C. Hagan, Franklin High School; Brooke Smith, Mountain View Intermediate; Jessica Carpenter, South Macon Elementary; Stephanie Hudson, Iotla Valley Elementary; Marion McClure, East Franklin & Cartoogechaye Elementaries; Jessica Moschouris, Highlands School; Chris Bell, Macon Middle; and Dwayna Jones, Nantahala School.
Conti explained that Youth Art Month began in 1961 to promote art education.
“I first got involved in Youth Art Month while teaching Connecticut high school students in the early 1980s and I made an effort to show students’ work in every community where I taught. Macon County Art Association had the first Macon County student art show at the Uptown Gallery in 2019, with a reception that drew more than 120 guests. Then COVID-19 hit. We continued the shows in March 2020, 2021, and 2022, but with no public receptions. This year is the first reception being held since 2019.”
Conti added that Youth Art Month recognizes skills children develop by practicing the arts, including creativity, communication, and problem-solving.
“And with this month-long exhibit, the Macon County Art Association is pleased to be supportive of our local art teachers and the amazing talent of our students in grade K-12,” she said. “I find this year ‘s exhibition shows incredible skill using a variety of media, including pastels, paper folding, printmaking, mixed media, oil paint, watercolors, acrylic, charcoal, graphite, and colored pencil. So many pieces show personal expression and style inspired by a wide variety of subject matter. It is a wonderful display of the talent of our Macon County students, guided by awesome art instructors.”
Uptown Gallery is open every day but Wednesday and Sunday; hours to view the exhibition are 11 a.m.– 3 p.m.
Conti will again organize a weekend-long art festival at the Macon County Library in October. Details are forthcoming.