Texas Border Business
By Clarissa Martinez
For many area high school students, the Emerging Artists Exhibit at South Texas College was the first time they ever saw their artwork displayed in a professional art gallery
The STC Art Department recently partnered with area high schools to present the annual exhibition. Students and parents attended the opening reception recently, where they were also able to tour the art department studios and meet STC instructors.
The exhibit featured works by students from eight schools, including Edinburg North High School, Jimmy Carter Early College High School in La Joya, Palmview High School, Juarez-Lincoln High School in Mission, La Joya High School, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) North Early College High School, PSJA Southwest Early College High School, PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM, Vanguard Academy Beethoven Secondary in Edinburg and Vanguard Academy Rembrandt Secondary in Pharr.
Luis Corpus, Visual Arts department chair, said it’s significant for high school students to see that their art can be celebrated and their talents acknowledged on a college-level.
“It’s important for them to understand what their art can become and their potential beyond the classroom,” Corpus said. “To display their art in public spaces is often times a very vulnerable feeling. But, I think it’s important for the artist to do that because displaying it publicly is the first step toward a professional outlook on the world of art.”
STC Art Instructor Tom Matthews said the exhibit and reception is also a way for high school students to be introduced to the department.
“It’s a great recruiting effort for STC that allows local high school students and parents to visit the campus and the art department,” Matthews said. “They have a chance to go inside the studios and see what our current students are making. They get to see what might be a possibility for them if they were to attend STC.”
Matthews said some students come to the event with an idea of what they want to study, while others haven’t quite found their way. STC can help guide them and turn their talents into future careers.
“That’s one thing that we’re here for, as professors,” Matthews said. “We can help guide them on their path to their future art career. Since we are a community college, we teach foundational-level art courses. We hope they go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, or even a master’s or a doctorate. And even if they don’t, we try to set them on their own path. If they want to start a business or get a job in the community, they’re prepared.”
Jewelya Villalobos, a senior at Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School in Pharr, said she has been involved with art since the sixth grade.
Although Villalobos wants to study Social Work in college and focus on helping children with autism, she said she enjoys expressing herself creatively.
“I want to pursue something other than art, but I really enjoy it and it’s an outlet for me,” Villalobos said. “I believe students have their own creativity and can create whatever they truly believe in. I believe that they want to share their art with people.”
Saydi Fragoso, a student at Vanguard Academy Rembrandt Secondary, said she never thought she would be given the opportunity to be part of an art exhibit this size, and enjoyed seeing how other high school artists expressed themselves.
“Honestly, all the artwork here is really nice and I feel very inspired for my next piece,” Fragoso said. “It’s pretty cool to have my art in such a professional setting and where everyone can see it. I never really imagined myself showing art in a gallery before.”
Fragoso said she was proud to be part of the exhibit, and it gave her a new outlook on what she can accomplish.
“Just by looking at other people’s artwork, it feels like you could do even more,” Fragoso said. “It gives you the feeling that you can keep improving and growing.”
Manny Saenz, an art teacher at Edinburg North High School, said about 18 of his art students were invited to display their artwork. He brought over a dozen students to the reception to see the exhibit, but also to give them a chance to visit the department in a relaxed setting.
“They need exposure to art events and also exposure to STC,” Saenz said. “Some of these students are juniors and seniors in high school, and this is the first time they step on campus. I think it’s essential for the college to create opportunities like this so the high school students can come and experience the college life here. Some of these kids will end up at STC.”