by Julie Lineback

More than 100 high school students converged onto the University of West Georgia campus recently for the College of Arts and Humanities’ inaugural Art Throw Down, hosted by the Department of Art.

Dr. Jason Swift
Dr. Jason Swift

Participants from Bowdon, Carrollton, Central, Temple, and Villa Rica high schools tested their skills in drawing, portraiture, painting and sculpting. A photo and video competition was also highlighted.

“In Georgia, there is a $62 billion creative industry,” Department of Art Chair Kevin Shunn told the audience during the awards ceremony, citing a report from the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Georgia Council for the Arts. “That’s pretty massive. I want you to think about all the opportunities you had today and to think of this career as a reality.”

The contest was suggested to Dr. Jason Swift, associate professor of art and director of art education, by Villa Rica High School art teacher and UWG alumnus Carl Jordan. Similar events had been organized in other cities, such as Atlanta.

“I have been working to build partnerships and greater relationships with art teachers in the P-12 schools in the area,” Swift said. “This became a great avenue to work with teachers I knew and meet new teachers. Most importantly, I wanted to host an event where high school students could connect with fellow students from other high schools, meet our students in the UWG art department, and get to know our art faculty.”

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Samantha Grissom, a senior at Villa Rica High, won third place in the street art category for her work with a mixed media piece in which she and her co-artist used ripped out pieces of magazines to convey a message of growth and journey.

Approximately 20 UWG students were on hand to help with the festivities.
Approximately 20 UWG students were on hand to help with the festivities.

“It’s a piece about a woman who’s moved on from being hurt by other people,” Grissom explained. “Over the top, I put ‘the words don’t hurt me anymore’ to show she’s grown away from the opinions of other people.”

Grissom said her favorite part of the experience was being able to meet everyone, make new friends and see each other’s art.

“It’s really important to me as a growing artist to be able to meet other artists around my age – and also people older than me who have moved to a higher level,” she concluded. “I enjoyed seeing how they get through to different themes, how their art style works into play and their thought process on art in general.”

Photography by Marshala Cofer

Posted on November 22, 2019