Family, friends and nearly 300 members of the community gathered at LeMoyne for the 36th Mahaska Whitley Student Exhibition: High School Art and Senior Portfolio Competition on Thursday evening, March 9. This celebrated annual event gives high school students the opportunity to display their best work in an art gallery. 160 young artists participated this year in an eclectic display that included everything from photography and ceramics to paintings and digital art. This year, 21 Leon County High School students are receiving a total of $7,600 in awards and college scholarships. The total award value is determined by generous community support.
Parents snapped pictures of their children, congratulating them on their proud achievements. This annual event gives high school students from across Leon County the chance to gain recognition for their hard work and talent.
Entering this exhibition introduces students to the process of professional presentation and gives them an opportunity to have their art portfolios reviewed by art industry professionals. In awarding scholarships and other prizes to competition winners, LeMoyne Arts’ annual Mahaska Whitley Student Exhibition supports and encourages local young artists to continue to develop their talents and to pursue a life-long interest in art.
Founder Mahaska Whitley, esteemed former Leon High School art teacher and art department director, together with LeMoyne Arts’ founding Executive Director Dick L. Puckett, envisioned this exhibit and competition as a way to inspire local young artists to further their arts education. “I was in this show 22 years ago,” said one attendee, reminiscing as she viewed the budding talent on display.
LeMoyne works closely with high school art teachers to coordinate this annual show, and recruits local arts professionals to serve as judges. Works are judged on originality, professional quality, and aesthetic quality. Entire senior portfolios were also evaluated for scholarship consideration. In this fair and equal process, judges do not know the name of the student, their school, or any identifying Information. This year’s panel of judges included: Dr. Nan Lui from Florida A&M University, Julie Baroody from Tallahassee Community College, and Dr. Susan Davis Baldino from Florida State University.
The awards ceremony took place in LeMoyne’s newly renovated gardens. “Oh my, this looks amazing!” said one attendee as she walked down the cobblestone path, admiring the water fountains and garden sculptures from LeMoyne’s permanent collection. As dusk settled, lanterns throughout the landscaping illuminated the garden, sculptures, and paths.
Mahaska Whitley, exhibition founder; Rocky Hanna, Superintendent of schools for Leon County; Michael T. “Mick” Callahan, prominent St. Petersburg attorney and founder of the Matt Callahan Memorial Scholarship Fund; and Roseanne Wood, member of the Leon County School Board presented the awards to the excited young artists.
“Even if you don’t win tonight, just having your art hanging in a gallery, a gallery like LeMoyne, is huge. This is art in the community,” said Roseanne Wood to the audience. “The art this year is amazing. The talent we have here in Leon County is incredible.”
There are a total of four awards categories, with multiple winners in each category except for the Founder’s Award, which has only one winner personally selected by Founder Mahaska Whitley. Senior Portfolio Artist Award winners receive scholarship money for college. Winners in the other categories earn gift cards for art supplies.
The 2023 Mahaska Whitley Student Exhibition Winners and their artwork are as follows.
Khawla Ezzagaghi (Chiles) "It’s a Guy"
Senior Portfolio Artist Scholarship Awards
Jessie Powell (Chiles) Matt Callahan Memorial $1000.00 “Reclamation”
Charlotte Spinks (Lincoln) Ann Kirn Memoria $1000.00 “Itch”
Sean Collins (Leon) Steve Uhlfelder Memorial $1000.00 “Consecration Rot”
Kendall Sampson (Leon) Leon County Schools $1000.00 “Hypochondriac”
Genesis Barrios (Lincoln) Mad Dog Construction $1000.00 “Error: In Love”
Amelia Jones (Lincoln) Contemporary $500.00 "Differing Perspectives"
Anabelle Goddard (Leon) Aesthete $500.00 "Andromeda"
Madi St. John (SAIL) Apalachee Center $500.00 "Cecropia"
Siena Bond (Leon) Capital City Bank $500.00 "The Stray"
Jazlyn Howell (Chiles) "Which One"
Laila Alexander(Chiles) "Dysmorphia”
Emmalina Starnes (Leon) “Yara”
General Artist Awards
Sydney Gibson (Rickards) "Billie Eilish"
Ava Jones (Lincoln) "Time Out"
Kalyn Harrison (FSUS) "Dragonfly Diptych"
Irene Wolf (SAIL) "Metallic"
Marina Stolley Villanueva (SAIL) "Cambur Colorida"
Sara Johnsen (SAIL) "Mountain Moonfall"
Katherine Gorkov (Maclay) "Darling Madeline"
Cam Fudge (FSUS) "Seasons"
The 2023 Mahaska Whitley Student Exhibition was made possible by support from: Matt Callahan Family & friends, Laurie & Kelly Dozier, Leon County School District, Mad Dog Construction, Ann Kim Memorial Fund, Capital City Bank, Apalachee Center, Susan Frisbee & Kirk Zinkowski, and others. A list of all the donors and sponsors that made this exhibit possible can be found on LeMoyne’s website, at lemoyne.org/mwse.
The exhibit is open to the community until March 30th, so please come out to support the amazing talents of our local young artists. The LeMoyne Arts Gallery is open to the public from 11 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Saturday.
For exhibits, events, classes and more, visit www.LeMoyne.org. To get regular updates, subscribe to LeMoyne’s email newsletter and “like” its Facebook page at facebook.com/LeMoyneArts
About LeMoyne Arts:
LeMoyne Arts has been at the heart of Tallahassee’s cultural and visual arts for 60 years. Its signature events are an important part of our community’s cultural life. LeMoyne has made the arts more accessible to people of all ages and economic levels, promoted and supported the work of local artists, and generated millions of dollars for our local economy. LeMoyne’s education programs have nurtured the artistic talent of four generations of Tallahassee families.
For Media Inquiries Contact: Arielle Raff, Executive Director, LeMoyne Arts, at Arielle@lemoyne.org, 850/222-8800, 125 N. Gadsden Street Tallahassee, FL 32301.
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