The All Schools Exhibit has returned to the Goddard Center, showcasing artwork from middle and high school kids throughout the county.
The exhibit kicked off on Thursday with a reception as students, families and teachers mingled in the Center’s gallery area. Students found their own artwork on display and got the chance to meet young artists from other schools while everyone else got to see what they’d been working on all year.  
Rikki Clymore, art teacher at Ardmore High School, said students tend to take more pride in their work when they know it’s going to be displayed.
“They may see it in class and that’s one thing, and they may take it home, but to see it in this kind of setting, it’s like ‘whoa,’” Clymore said. “They take a lot of pride in it.”
Clymore said the showcase also gives students a chance to see pieces from other schools and take inspiration back to the classroom with them.
“That’s what fuels it,” Clymore said. “They come to see the work, they talk to the other students. It helps us as teachers, too.”
Collages, sculptures, paintings, drawings, jewelry and mixed media pieces covered every surface, and in some cases, the floor.
Hazel Herrera, a Plainview sophomore, said her painting of a girl silhouetted against a sunset is the first piece she’s had on display at the exhibit. She said the occasion was especially exciting because she’s been attending the exhibit for years to see other students’ work.
“I take a lot of pictures of the sky, but anybody can take a picture,” Herrera said. “So, I tried to represent a sunset, and I drew a girl because I thought it would fit. It feels free, in a way, like you’re just sitting there and staring at the sky.”
Some students thought outside the box. One Ardmore freshman, Rebecca Roberts, made a display of decorated doughnuts out of air-dry and polymer clay, perched on a serving tray made of foam and cardboard.
“We were studying pop art, and I said ‘it doesn’t have to be an object, it doesn’t have to be food,’” Clymore said. “It’s had a couple of battle wounds, but it made it through.”
Sophomore Delana Morris created a paper mache mask with cardboard ears, along with some landscape paintings and kites.
“We were doing traditional cultural masks, and something I don’t see a lot of is Japanese culture, so I came up with this,” Morris said. “It’s an interest of mine.”
High school and middle school students compete for first, second, and third place, as well as honorable mention. Winners are awarded admission to art classes.
Plainview High School art teacher Greg Dudley said he’s always blown away when he sees all the students’ work on display in one place.
“Individually, you think ‘Oh, that’s a neat piece, that’s cool,’ but to see it all together, it’s overwhelming,” Dudley said.
Pieces range from dreamlike to terrifying. One large painting depicts a woman lying on the beach in a white dress. Not far away, a huge painting of Pennywise the clown stared down guests.
“Many times I let them pick their own subject matter, that way it’s less restrictive,” Dudley said.
He said he works within curriculum to teach specific skills, but otherwise lets them choose their own subjects and directions.
“I’m always pleased they’re willing to do larger work, especially some of my freshman and sophomores,” Dudley said.
Michayla Bowmen, a sophomore, submitted a drawing of a satyr, a character she’s been working on for some time. She said the final product, a combination of colored pencils and watercolors, is now one of her favorite pieces.
“I mostly work on comics, which is why I have such a cartoony art style,” Bowmen said. “He was one of my first original characters, and I was messing with watercolors, so it was kind of an experiment.”
Lone Grove art teacher Chris Frederick said the artwork is often as unique as the students. One student painted a large depiction of her pet monkey. Others did realistic depictions of human faces, and others created abstract depictions of animals.
“I really allow them, especially with my painters, to look for imagery they want to use,” Frederick said. “It’s kind of personal for all of them.”