Annual Ellis County Art Association Youth Art Exhibit showcases 200 pieces

Kenya Menjivar
Waxahachie Daily Light

The Ellis County Art Association Youth Art Exhibit kicked off on Tuesday, March 23, displaying art pieces throughout the gallery, from pre-kindergarteners up to seniors in high school.  

A wall was filled with artwork from pre-kindergarteners at the Youth Art Exhibit.

More than 200 pieces were submitted, with multiple pieces from each grade. 

Student Autumn Wells' winning pieces were displayed at the Youth Art Exhibit.

“I’m totally excited for this youth outreach,” said Jim Witherspoon, member of the Art Association. “It’s really about the youth, reaching out into the community and trying to get our kids to get involved in the art. We want them to stay creative. We want them to stay involved in the community. We want to be involved in the community, and that is what we do. Our nonprofit side is outreach.”

Witherspoon, an artist himself, has been a part of the association for more than two years. 

“This particular show is special to the organization. It means a lot because of the Shelley Nance scholarship. Shelley Nance was murdered and all of her work was in here, and each year, (Shelley's mother) Cynthia picks a winner for the scholarship she donates. It means a lot to us because Cynthia means a lot to us and so does her daughter,” Witherspoon said.

Although the association did not have an exhibit last year, they still gave out their scholarships. 

For this year’s show, four members were chosen to be judges of the art exhibit. From the submissions, one senior was chosen as the recipient of the Ellis County Art Association Senior scholarship of $500. 

Autumn Wells from Waxahachie High School was the winning recipient of the ECAA scholarship this year. 

Additionally, for the second year the Shelley Nance Memorial Art Scholarship was given to a senior participant. The scholarship is of $1,000 and has been gifted every year, previously through a different art show.

A wall of Shelley's artwork was displayed, with this luminous piece shining bright.

“When my daughter passed away, we were looking for ways to raise money to create a scholarship in her memory. So I approached the Ellis County art association when they were over on Main St. and asked them if they would be willing to let me use their facility to have a scholarship fundraiser,” explained Cynthia Nance. 

Nance hung up all of Shelley’s artwork, and people came in and made donations. The money donated was given out for her memorial scholarship the following year. 

Originally, the scholarship was only eligible for Italy ISD students but has since expanded to all of Ellis County. 

“Just last year I decided since we weren’t reaching as many students because there weren’t as many applying for the scholarship because they weren’t planning on going to school for art. Then I asked the art associations (if) they would let me include it with their scholarship program,” said Nance. “When they allowed me to have the show, that’s when I decided to join the membership and do whatever I could to help them. I appreciate art. I don’t have a lick of talent of my own because that was my daughter’s stuff, but they’ve allowed me to use what skills I do have to help them out.”

In order to qualify, a student had to fill out an application, submit five pieces of art and have a recommendation letter.

The recipient of the Shelley Nance Memorial Art Scholarship was Kathryn Grace Dyess, a Red Oak High School senior. 

Kathryn Dyess' art pieces were displayed within the Youth Art Show, as the recipient of the Shelley Nance Memorial Art Scholarship.

“I’m so proud of her. She’s a pretty good kid,” said Kimberly Rumfield, Dyess’ mother. 

Anyone can be a member of the art association. The membership fee is $40 a year and includes workshops and classes. 

“You don’t have to be a member to check us out, just come,” said Witherspoon.

To hang artwork in a gallery, members become gallery partners and pay the annual membership of $60, making them a part of Art of the Square. 

To learn more about the association, visit http://www.elliscountyart.net/ .