Brenda Padilla scanned the walls inside of the Manteca Unified boardroom and marveled at the work of her fellow students.
As part of the district’s evening of recognition, students from all of the high schools submitted their best artwork for consideration and ultimately for sale by those that came out to see the work that ran the gamut from traditional paintings to mixed media works that were as detailed as they were impressive.
The Manteca High senior had her own acrylic work on display. She said that getting the chance to see what others can do when motivated was as much fun as getting to showcase her own talents.
“I just love the realization that you can create anything you imagine – even if it’s not something that’s technically real,” Padilla said. “Anything that comes to your mind can be inspiration in art and you can make it beautiful.
“Sometimes its difficult defining what art actually is because it can be anything to anybody. But ultimately it’s up to you as the viewer to make that determination, and it makes it an experience you can participate in.”
Ultimately it was a pair of East Union students – Mariah Jeffery and Estephane Arredondo – that walked away with the district’s top honors. Jeffery took to the People’s Choice Award for an elephant painting that she submitted while Arredondo’s charcoal work depicting Native American leaders earned the Best of Show Award.
According to Manteca Unified Arts Coordinator and Sierra High School art teacher Devon York, getting to honor students for what they create in the classroom benefits not only the students that who are being recognized, but those that aspire to reach the same heights by sharing to their work.
“I think that anytime you can honor somebody for their achievement whether it is in athletics or it is in art you’re doing something to establish that pride and that sense of accomplishment,” York said. “When you look around here there is such a broad spectrum of art that is created by so many talented students, and that is great for kids who want to find something in themselves they didn’t know was there. Kids don’t walk into an art class as an artist – they learn how to do that.”
Turlock resident Gene Underwood said he came Tuesday to see some of the work of his nephews and was blown away at the creativity and the ability of the students that are expressing themselves today.
Having something to turn to, he said, gives them a channel and the chance to find out things about themselves – something he could see in most of the pieces on display.
“It’s amazing how many bright minds we have here today – so many artistic kids that are doing wonderful things,” he said. “Art is important because it allows you to expand your horizons and gives you a different perspective on life and a deeper sense of purpose.
“It allows to have a different kind of conversation, and it’s good to see so many kids participating in it.”