The Call to Art student exhibition featured over 400 pieces of art by Ellis County artists in grades pre-kindergarten through 12th. Exceptional works of art were submitted in the scholarship contest, which resulted in six winners — one from Midlothian Heritage High School and the rest from Red Oak High.

“Last year, the exhibit planned to offer one $500 scholarship, but the judges and the board chose to offer a second scholarship, at a smaller amount, in recognition of that senior’s work,” explained David Harper, Ellis County Art Association member.

This year, two $500 scholarships were offered, and the judges thought smaller amounts should be awarded to other deserving artists, totaling $1,500.

Out of several applicants, Hanna Kratsman from MHHS along with Ava Hardy from ROHS both earned top honors with a $500 scholarship. Also from ROHS was Devin Wilcox who won a $300 scholarship and Coleman Hopkins and Leyla Galindo who received $100 scholarships.

In years past, one elementary and secondary teacher of the year was recognized and this year. Amy Sears, who works as an art teacher at Baxter Elementary within Midlothian ISD, received elementary teacher of the year, while Alexia Mentzel, at ROHS, was named the secondary teacher of the year.

Kratsman, 17, entered some surrealist portraits created by mostly oil paint with an acrylic priming background.

In one of her submissions, she painted the Ellis County Courthouse with a man looking back over his shoulder and the warm sun behind him.

“I figured it would be a cool representation at home,” Kratsman explained.

Kratsman is all about the aesthetic aspect of art and utilizes her Puerto Rican heritage and current culture to influence her color choices. “I’m very influenced by the tropical colors … And I like to bring people from Texas and mix them in my 'Puerto Ricaness.'”

When she was 10 years old, Krasman caught the first glimpse into her talents after she experienced a Bob Ross tribute class. There, she learned the importance of values. “It’s very important to put the right colors in the right places,” she explained.

That same year she drew a butterfly with Prismacolor colored pencils. As she focused on the details, she became more intrigued by her passion for art. Kratsman has grown as an artist, often completing projects on smaller mediums to practice detail.

Kratsman is involved in the art club at MHHS that really is a social club and an excuse to eat pizza, she joked. She is also the president of the robotics club where she serves as a vocal and encouraging leader.

“It really boils to putting things together and art too,” Kratsman said about robotics.

Kratsman recently submitted her work for another contest at the student art exhibition, Texas Visual Art’s Association, hosted by the University of Dallas and received $75. She also placed second with a wedding portrait in last year’s Midlothian’s Got Talent and was one of the senior students who contributed to the Midlothian-themed mural at Fuzzy's Taco Shop.

She has been accepted at the University of North Texas to pursue a degree in drawing and painting. She aspires to teach art at the college level and have a doctorate in art.

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Hardy, 18, was another student who received $500 in scholarship money. She displayed an emotional piece at the contest that detailed a student at his desk in his room with more than 1,000 paper balls around him to express anxiety.

Another piece submitted by Hardy conveyed, “It was kind of like a mental forest like all the things that you have to deal with that tear you down. It doesn’t actually hurt you, it’s just there.”

Hardy was initially discouraged from submitting her work and when she heard the good news about winning $500 in scholarship money she could barely believe it — not to mention it was also April Fool’s Day. “I was happy about it,” Hardy expressed.

Over her high school experience, Hardy has been able to pay attention to detail, and her process to completion is everything. Projects in her freshmen year that would have taken her about three days, now take her three months.

“When I draw it’s not for the process but for the finished result, because everything around us is art and I want to create cool stuff too,” Hardy said.

The work is inspired by her experiences in life that she finds to be relatable.

“If I don’t like my art, then it’s not good,” she explained. “I don’t care what other people think. It’s about how I feel about it even though it is meant to make other people react to it.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450