Senior McKenna Schilling’s artwork selected for Governor’s state wide art tour

Delaney Bryson, Writer

Senior Mckenna Schilling carefully sketches out the features of her mother’s face using an old photo she found after rummaging through photo albums. Her mom passed away last year after being diagnosed with brain cancer, and Schilling decided to draw a portrait of her as a tribute to her life. It is because of this piece that Schilling has been chosen to participate in a traveling art show by art teacher Kristin McDowell and the Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA).

“The Governor’s Traveling Art Show is comprised of 20 pieces of art that were selected at the Michigan Art Education Association (MAEA)’s competition,” McDowell said. “In order for [Mckenna] to be able to participate, first I selected her piece of art to go to the regionals show in Lapeer. Then from our region, which consists of Genesee County and Lapeer county, she was selected to go to the state competition.”

After winning the state competition, Schilling’s piece was selected to travel around the state for a year. While other students have been selected for art shows in previous years, Schilling is the first from Fenton to make it all the way to the traveling show. Not only is her piece original for this reason, it also has a special meaning behind it.

“My piece was a drawing of my mom,” Schilling said. “When I was in fourth grade, she was diagnosed with brain cancer and in March of 2016, she passed away. After that it was hard to remember, at least for me, a lot of the good memories from before she was sick. In art last year, we were assigned a project, and I can’t remember what it was, but I wanted to have some meaning to it. Christmas was coming up, too, so I wanted to do something for my dad. I went through old photos and found one that I really liked of my mom from before she was sick. I took my time on it and finished it by Christmas and gave it to my dad.”

Not only was Schilling’s work selected for the traveling show, she also earned a spot in the top 100 artists, chosen by the MAEA.

“Since it was such an important piece to me, I was definitely a lot happier when I won than if it were just another piece,” Schilling said. “To me it’s almost like [my mom] is traveling and getting to see all these places and other people are able to appreciate her like I do.”

Schilling’s piece was made using charcoal, but she says she also has an affinity using acrylic paint and ink. She has developed these skills in McDowell’s art classes over four years, beginning her freshman year in Art Foundations. She is now in McDowell’s AP Studio Art class.

“In the beginning I knew that she was a good artist,” McDowell said. “She just had always done what she was supposed to and worked hard at it. This year in AP studio art, I think she is really going to get a chance to get even better at what she does. She selected her theme for the year to be Hometown Heroes and she’s using the piece of her mom as her first one in the series out of 12 other pieces. I think it is going to be a nice progression to see where she takes that.”

Mckenna’s piece will be returned to her and her dad in November and at the same time will be on display at its final spot in Detroit.