May’s First Friday event welcomed not only its normal crowd of revelers and local musicians, but also an art showcase from students at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School.
Among the eight students showcasing work inside the Port Inn, two of them, sophomores Caroline Rish and Alex Nunez, received scholarships to attend workshops at the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) during the last week of July.
The full scholarships were provided by the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition (FCCC) in conjunction with the Plein Air Paint Out event, currently in full swing in Gulf County and surrounding areas.
The SCAD Summer Seminars offer workshops for high school students who have completed their freshman, sophomore or junior years. While attending, students live on campus, learn from professors and have the opportunity to gain an educational experience while developing their creative visions through art and design projects. Students attend two workshops each day followed by a trip to a local museum or art installation in the evening. The end of the session will be celebrated with a closing exhibition of student work created during the workshop.
“I look forward to sharpening my skills and learning new ones,” said Rish. “SCAD is such a well-known college and I hope it helps me to become more known to get my work out there.”
Rish said she was particularly looking forward to a specialized watercolor class, a medium she has used to paint the Indian Pass Raw Bar and the First Methodist Church, while Nunez said she was excited to take a course centered on acrylics. Each student will also take a figure drawing class to challenge their skills.
“SCAD is a good school with good workshops,” said Nunez. “It’s going to be a great experience—I’ve never done anything like it.”
When art teacher Julie Hodges first heard about the workshops she reached out to the FCCC and provided more information and the organization was quick to offer support for the students interested in attending.
“These kids are very talented,” said FCCC member Natalie Shoaf. “Julie has nurtured the talent in the kids and tried to open up every opportunity to allow them to excel.
“Opening the opportunity to SCAD for these students will be a life changing experience.”
Hodges said that both girls are considering art related careers and was excited for them to experience life on a college campus while studying under actual professors.
SCAD’s Atlanta campus is features an urban design with many buildings utilizing reclaimed materials in the designs. This not only provides a non-traditional atmosphere, but gives students an inspiring place to create their art.
“Both of these students excel at art and are very talented in their own right,” said Hodges. “I hope they come back with a positive experience and share what it’s like to be in a college setting.”
Each year, the FCCC awards grants to programs in Gulf and Franklin Counties and this year the focus was Art in Education.
“My hope is that these students play it forward and remember all the support this community has given them,” said Shoaf. “And maybe, just maybe, they’ll allow us to exhibit their works when they’re rich and famous.”