Student art displayed at DMA

Adam Schasel, Staff Reporter

For many fine arts students, it is a lifelong dream to have a piece displayed in a museum or be performed by a professional musician.

However, thanks to the Young Masters competition, seniors Mackenzie Miller, Bethany Wong, Brenna Leiker and Nick Kabore no longer have to dream.

Co-sponsored by the Dallas Museum of Art and the O’Donnel Foundation, since 1995 the Young Masters program has sought to enhance participation and creativity within AP Arts programs – Art History, Studio Art and Music Theory – by featuring select works of students to be displayed in the Dallas Museum of Art.

Each class has different criteria; Studio Art students must submit a 2D or 3D piece, while Music Theory students must submit a four-minute original composition and Art History students must submit a 500-word essay about a piece in permanent residence at the museum.

For Miller, it is an extraordinary honor to be featured in the Dallas Museum of Art.

“Some of the work there just blew me away,” Miller said. “Especially some of the kids from Booker T [High School for the Performing Arts], where they’re going to school for art. It’s really such a great honor to be a part of it and I’m so glad to have been just a part of the whole competition.”

Not only was Miller’s piece, an oil painting titled  “Toni,” good enough to be featured in the museum, it was also good enough to place second among 46 entrants in the Studio Art category.

“It got to the point where I was really hoping that I could get in,” Miller said.

“But to place so highly, I was blown away and was really not expecting it.”

“Toni,” Miller explains, was originally created her junior year to be a part of her concentration about clothes. The message she was trying to communicate was about clothes being an intricate part about how teenagers express themselves.

“My piece is a modified-portrait type of idea,” Miller said. “I’m taking peoples’ clothes and representing them without them being in the painting.”

Whereas “Toni” focused on teenagers expressing the person that they are, Kabore’s photo, titled “Upon the Horizon,” is about teenagers wondering about the person they will become.

For his piece, Kabore intentionally placed senior Alec Sells on two yellow parking lines while looking out toward the Dallas skyline, symbolizing his journey as a young high school student seeking to become a rapper but facing unknown obstacles and boundaries.

“The picture is of Alec and he’s looking over at the skyline,” Kabore said. “It shows how he’s trying to get started in his career and his pursuit for his dreams.”
Leiker’s piece, titled “Breakfast Machine,” uses intense detail to contrast food, derivative of nature, and machines, a creation of man and to establish a relationship between them. She deconstructed the machinery to add a sense of mortality to the piece.

“I’ve essentially been preparing for this my entire life,” Leiker said. “I spent a total of about twenty hours on that piece before I submitted it.”
While Leiker is extremely proud of her work, her favorite piece at the Young Masters gallery was Wong’s, a collection of collages simply titled “Configuration.”

“This piece was originally in three separate pieces before I put them together,” Wong said. “It was part of my concentration about locations, and the overview of them using texture and different kinds of media.”

Wong drew was inspired by the success of previous students in the Young Masters competition to submit her own work, including previous students Michael Meyers, Tyler Finch, and Ryan Day.

“Kids before us had submitted, and it was really cool to see their work in the DMA so I wanted to try,” Wong said. “It’s also encouraged through every AP Arts class by their teachers.”

One of those teachers is AP Studio Art teacher Brice McCasland, who had previously taught Wong, Miller and Leiker.

“I feel like a man who’s searched for a unicorn his whole life but then sees a yeti,” McCasland said. “It’s like this crazy pride in something that’s new and fresh, not something you expected, but it’s no less glorious.”

Leiker has that same feeling of pride about her own piece.

“It feels really good to be featured in the museum,” she said. “I mean, it’s the Dallas Museum of Art, so if anyone knows what’s worthy of being put in a museum, it would be them, right?”

Miller, Kabore, Leiker and Wong’s pieces will be featured in the Dallas Museum of Art until Feb. 19. All 46 Studio Art pieces can be viewed here