“Daddy’s Girls” by Evie is on display at Bluffton Branch Library along with other artworks by local eighth grade students.

The annual Bluffton 8th Grade Juried Art Show has resumed following the pandemic interruptions for the past two years. The exhibit opened at the Bluffton Branch Library, 120 Palmetto Way, on April 1 and will run through May 7. 

Five Bluffton middle schools are participating in this event that showcases the artistic talents of eighth grade students.

The main reason this annual event is held is to provide artistically talented eighth graders an opportunity to showcase their talents in a juried art show for the community to see, enjoy and appreciate. Generally, athletically talented youngsters find many opportunities to show off their skills to the community at large and be recognized for it. This art show is intended to bring about the same recognition to those artistically talented students. 

In that process, the importance of supporting art in schools to enhance the imagination and cognitive abilities is highlighted. 

Preparation for the show gets started in September at the start of the school year. We enlist the support of all the art teachers and principals, the sponsors, and other supporters for the show in April. 

The first significant activity is the creation of the art for the poster. Every year, on a rotation basis, we invite one of the participating schools to have one of their students create that artwork. The resulting poster is distributed to all schools and event sponsors.

In early March, we collect all the artwork from the participating schools. The Society of Bluffton Artists (SOBA), a nonprofit arts organization that has a gallery and promotes art and artists, provides us with three judges to view all the artwork submitted by the schools. The panel selects 30 pieces from all the works submitted, and these are professionally mounted for display at the library. 

The rest of the artwork is returned to the respective schools.

The 30 pieces selected for exhibit are brought to the Great Frame Up, which has supported this program since its inception in 2015. They donate their time and material and provide us with top quality mounting suitable for display at the library. 

Each piece of artwork carries a card that lists the title of the piece, the medium, the name of the artist and the name of the school. Each piece is assigned a number to enable library patrons to write down their top three choices on a ballot during the exhibition. The People’s choice balloting continues throughout April.

On May 5, beginning at 5:30 p.m., a reception is held at the library to recognize and honor the artists. The event is free and open to the public. Parents, teachers and principals are invited to participate and show their support for the student artists and their artwork.

Cash prizes and ribbons for the winners are determined by the panel of SOBA judges and the People’s choice.

We invite the public to make a point to visit the library and view the artists’ work and to vote for their favorite piece of art.

The show closes May 7.

Art Gopalan of Bluffton is the creator and coordinator of the annual Bluffton 8th Grade Juried Art Show.