LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Students' artwork will be up for bid Saturday when the Manatee Education Foundation hosts the seventh annual 2014 Heart & Soul Gala and Live Art Auction. The artwork was displayed Friday night for students and parents.
A collection of 20 paintings, ceramics and photography pieces by Manatee County students will be sold to benefit the Manatee County School District's arts programs.
The 20 student works that will be auctioned were selected from a pool of 175 entries by judges Gretchen Leclezio of the Palmetto Art Center and Bridget Lopez of Bridget Lopez Photography. Sherry Lawrence, the former director of arts and gifted programs for the Manatee County School District, was also a judge. The posi
tion no longer exists in the school district.
Mary Glass, the executive director of the Manatee Education Foundation, said the event showcases the talents of local students while making an effort to preserve art programs.
Glass said 225 people are expected at the HEART & SOUL auction and gala Saturday, and tickets for the event are sold out.
"Everyone enjoys seeing the students' art and the talent of our students. The caliber and quality goes up every year," Glass said.
Glass said the average bid is around $600, although in the past works have sold for as much as $5,500.
The gala benefits students not only by providing funding for art programs in schools but also by providing scholarships for student artists.
The three students who were selected by the judges as best in show will receive $1,650 scholarships to the Ringling College of Art and Design.
Emily Andersen from the Manatee School for the Arts was chosen for the two-dimensional category for her mixed media "Traffic Lights." Tyra Pasick from Bayshore High School was chosen for the three-dimensional category for her ceramic piece "Nirvana," and Brandon Huynh from Braden River High School was picked for the photography category for "Heartbreak Hotel."
Andersen said she was inspired by the reflection of traffic lights in the streets after it rains. She said she had her home state of Maryland in mind when she created the piece, and that the teachers and art program at Manatee School for the Arts have helped her adjust to Bradenton.
"Art inspires kids to be better at everything they do," Andersen said.
Andersen isn't the only student who believes art helped her through a difficult transition.
Kimberly King, mother of artist and Manatee School for the Arts student Jaimie King, said the arts program helped her daughter settle in after moving from Missouri her sophomore year.
"It gave her something to latch onto and helped make school more fun for her," King said.
Huynh, who has been fine tuning his passion for photography in Manatee County for the past three years after taking his first journalism class at Braden River High School, said watching someone purchase his work is something he never thought of.
"It will definitely be something new," Huynh said. "All media of art, whether it is photography or ceramics, give students a voice that they can't express in different classes."
Georgette D'Amelio, an art teacher at Bayshore High School who helped start the HEAT & SOUL Gala, said she feels pride for her students as well as the pressure they face to complete a project to their full capability.
"I am birthing their creations with them," D'Amalio said. "I am right there through the process, like a midwife. And there is dialogue between teacher and student."
D'Amalio, who retires this year, said she hopes to be a judge in next year's HEART & SOUL event.
The gala and art auction takes place at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081