March 22 reception set for Youth Art Month exhibit

Youth Art Month, a celebration of artwork of Jackson County students, will be on display March 1-23 at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Art Center at WCU. A March 23 reception at WCU will celebrate the exhibit. (2012 archive photo)

An exhibit of artistic creations by Jackson County students will be on display March 1-23 at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at WCU. A public reception is set for March 22. (2012 archive photo)

Western Carolina University is celebrating the artwork of local students with the 2015 Jackson County Youth Art Month exhibit that runs through Monday, March 23, in WCU’s John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

A reception will be held from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, March 22, just outside the Fine Art Museum in the Bardo Arts Center. The reception will include an announcement of this year’s winners, who will be judged by WCU art education students as part of their curriculum. Cash prizes will be awarded. The event is free and the public is invited.

Youth Art Month has been celebrated since 1976, and WCU began hosting a local event in 1988. This year’s exhibit will include the artwork of more than 300 Jackson County students from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Youth Art Month strives to emphasize the importance of art education for all children and promotes public support for quality school art programs, said Erin Tapley, event coordinator and associate professor of art education.

“The focus of Youth Art Month is to convey the message that art education develops self-esteem, visual literacy and an ability to produce meaningful material form,” Tapley said. “Jackson County is fortunate to have an art teacher in each of its public schools who educates students in the history and aesthetics of art-making and gives them opportunities to critically analyze the meaning of art in their daily lives.”

This year’s participants will come from Cullowhee Valley School, Blue Ridge School, Fairview Elementary School, Summit Charter School, Smoky Mountain High School, Scotts Creek School, Smokey Mountain Elementary School, Jackson County School of Alternatives and Cherokee Schools.

Event sponsors include WCU’s School of Art and Design, Art Education Club, College of Fine and Performing Arts, Bardo Art Center, Fine Art Museum, and College of Education and Allied Professions and the Jackson County Arts Council.

The Bardo Arts Center lobby, where the youth art will be displayed, is open from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about the event, contact Tapley at 828-227-3598 or