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OU School of Visual Arts hosts virtual youth art competition

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This year's Youth Talent in Oklahoma competition will be virtual and displayed on the OU School of Visual Arts' website. 

The OU School of Visual Arts is hosting the Young Talent in Oklahoma 2021 online exhibition sponsored by the Oklahoma Art Education Association.

Young Talent in Oklahoma is a statewide art competition for students who attend private and public Oklahoma high schools. It is sponsored each year by the Oklahoma Art Education Association for students whose art educators are members of the organization and features works in many mediums from artists across the state, according to the Young Talent in Oklahoma website. 

The competition typically highlights young artists every March during Youth Art Month. Normally the event is in person and takes place at varying universities in order to give students the opportunity to see an array of schools, said Jennifer Deal, an art teacher at Broken Arrow High School and a member of the Young Talent in Oklahoma Committee on the OAEA board. However, the exhibition will take place online this year due to COVID-19.

Jurors reviewed over 1000 submissions for general entries and over 60 senior portfolios for this year’s competition, Deal said. Approximately 200 pieces were selected for the general art show, in addition to awards given for Merit, Honorable Mention, Juror’s Choice and President’s Choice. The top ten portfolios chosen by jurors earned awards and the top three portfolios received scholarships to attend either college or trade school, according to the website.

Deal said events like these are important because otherwise the students are sitting in a classroom making art that may never get seen. The competition is a chance that pushes the students to get their work out into the world, Deal said. 

“We encourage the kids to put themselves out there, because if they don’t put themselves out there, they’re guaranteed to never win any awards,” Deal said.

All of the merit winners and all of the artists with senior portfolios will send pieces in to an OAEA member in Oklahoma City to be featured in a gallery at the Will Rogers World Airport over the next three months, Deal said.  

The student works can be viewed at the Young Talent in Oklahoma’s portfolio site, and more information about the competition can be found on the OU School of Visual Arts Facebook page as well as the Oklahoma Art Education Association website.

While the event is designed to be in person, the site has had over 10,000 visitors so far to see the students’ artwork, so this online presence has been sort of a silver lining, Deal said.

“When they get to go out and see their work, there’s just this huge sense of pride to see it someplace where lots and lots of people end up seeing it,” Deal said.

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