By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Three Tupelo High School students decided to use their senior project to showcase the talents of their classmates.
Alex Cayson, Ashleigh Burns and Adam Hildenbrand have created an art exhibit at Romie’s Grocery featuring more than a dozen paintings by current and former THS students. The art also is on sale, with a quarter of the proceeds going to Our Artworks, an art charity created by Tupelo’s William Heard that benefits individuals with disabilities, and another quarter going to the Tupelo High fine arts department.
The other half of each sale will go to the artists, many of whom will use the money to fund a trip to Italy in the summer of 2015 with current and former THS art students. There they will visit museums and cathedrals.
“We decided to do an art wall and display students’ art work,” said Burns, 18.
Prices depend on size and medium, and the exhibit will remain for about two weeks. Some water colors cost $150, and there is an oil painting of the old Tupelo courthouse dome available for $450. One oil painting has already sold for $575.
The paintings are in three categories: Southern landscapes, Tupelo landmarks and famous Mississippians. They include images of barns, Mason jars, Elvis eating at Johnnie’s Drive In, the Chickasaw trails and BB King, among others.
Meanwhile, Romie’s co-owner Rob Lesley said customers have enjoyed the art work and have been impressed by its quality.
“We love to support Tupelo High School and the kids so their art work can be seen by people from numerous walks of life,” he said. “It is a good thing for them, and it gives them some exposure to the community in a nice environment.”
The three seniors contributed their own art to the project. They’ve also coordinated setting up the exhibit and overseeing the sales.
“That has been the hardest part, going to public places and having to tell people what we are doing,” said Cayson, 18.
“…We’ve figured out how to sell and market our artwork. We all want to do art as a career so it has been a valuable experience.”
Each of the three said the biggest lesson has been improved communication skills.
“I’ve learned how hard it can be to get everyone on the same page and communicate well,” said Hildenbrand, 17.