Upon winning first place in my division, I earned more than just the accomplishment and tangible prizes they gave me. I earned relationships and experience through those relationships. I've met many, many people in the arts community here that I never knew existed, and so I was able to become the beginnings of a professional artist.
One of the prizes for winning the competition was entry to the First Friday Art Walk, and I can easily say this prize is the most valuable. For the first time, I was selling my artwork, not with my school or with a parent or supervisor: it was me. And just as one of my customers pointed out to me: this was my business.
Because of the Student and Emerging Artist Competition and the award that encouraged me to participate in the First Friday Art Walk, I was commissioned by a wonderful couple, Connie and Grady Carroll, to paint a mural on the wall of their house. I can easily attest to how much this has helped me grow as an artist. It is my first stepping stone in the professional world, and provided me with the experience of working closely with a client to work and rework a project to achieve a result that will please both artist and client. This commission taught me things about being a professional artist that I can't begin to explain.
The Magnolia Art Xchange is such a fantastic phenomenon to have been created. As an 18 year old artist finishing up high school and moving out, I will no longer have the studio space art class provided me. MAX not only offers studio space I could use to further myself as an individual, professional artist, but also collaborative opportunities and relationships that can be built upon as I slowly but surely enter the artistic community in Ocala.
- JENNIFER MILLER - West Port High School Senior