SAY Si students shine at Art League’s Semmes Studio workshop

One of the joys of being part of the San Antonio Art League is planning community outreach programs that share our resources with young artists, and our recent youth workshop was a real joy. Our current exhibit is a collection of 27 paintings from the Edgar B. Davis Wildflower Competitions  in the 1920’s. We wanted to share this work and the historic story with creative kids, so we turned to our friends at SAY Si Youth Art Program.

Long story made short, Edgar Davis was an eccentric wildcatter who made a fortune in oil and offered huge cash prizes to artists to paint Texas wildflowers (supposedly, his first well was struck in a patch of bluebonnets). The San Antonio Art League, which was founded in 1912, agreed to host the competition, and many of the paintings ended up in our permanent collection. When these amazing paintings are exhibited, which is all too rarely, scholars of early Texas art flock to see them.

In a collaboration with SAY Si youth art program, seven eight-grade students visited us last Saturday to explore the collection. Each student chose a painting from the collection that resonated with them for aesthetic and personal reasons.

Then they joined my co-teacher, Stefani Job Spears and me in the Semmes Studio for a workshop called Contemporary Collage Inspirations from SAALM’s Edgar B. Davis Collection.

The young artists used their cell phones to take references photos of the pieces they had selected. Then they tore paper and used paint and pencils and markers to interpret the paintings in a personal, contemporary way.

They worked with absolute concentration and focus, each listening to her own music and thinking her own thoughts. At lunchtime, when they took a break to eat in the King William park across the street, Stefani and I could hear them laughing and chattering a block away, but when they were engaged in their artwork, there was a silence that was almost meditative.

When we discussed the finished work, there were lots of insightful comments about the subjects of the early Texas paintings and the old stories the girls had heard from their grandparents about how life had been for them.

The collages were totally original interpretations, filled with imaginative treatments of traditional subject matter.  I was in awe!

I hope you’ll take a minute to look at the video of the workshop (below) and watch the interaction between these young artists and the iconic Texas paintings in the Davis collection. I learned so many lessons from watching these creative girls. Many thanks to Stephen Guzman and Ashley Perez of SAY Si for bringing us together.

SAY Si Students visit the San Antonio Art League’s Semmes Studio for a workshop about the Davis Collection from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

Come see the exhibit that inspired these students’ work!

Open to the public from June 10th, 2018 to July 27th, 2018 – EXTENDED UNTIL AUGUST 10! Free and open to the public.




10 thoughts on “SAY Si students shine at Art League’s Semmes Studio workshop

  1. What a great workshop. The students were really committed to the project and that made all the difference. How satisfying for you to teach these girls. I am amazed by their work

  2. What a great workshop. The students were really committed to the project and that made all the difference. How satisfying for you to teach these girls. I am amazed by their work

  3. Wow! Where do I start?
    The most overwhelming part of this to me can be said with these simple dates…1920s-2018.
    I know if I had been the artist of one of the original pieces and saw forward into the future to what the interpretations of these pierces meant to these sweet girls, I would be so proud.
    Also, that the girls were open to share their stories, which can be such a vulnerable thing, and to putting down on a page, what they got from their selected pieces. Their finished pieces were crazy great! Made me emotional seeing each stunning piece. It was beautiful to see young artists, in the making.
    Lyn and Stephanie, another great example of how you two give back…over and over again…
    I’ll be sharing this posting with my list, so that they can see a perfect example of how we ALL have something to say through art…

    Excellent post…

  4. Fabulous ! Knowing that young people go to museums and look at the masters and past great artists is exciting ! They all did an awesome job. I love each new piece. Keep getting inspired by our past !

  5. Lyn, Fantastic workshop! Thanks for sharing. Reminded me of art classes I took at about their age at our local arts center. The girls were so articulate talking about the paintings they chose. I know you get as much back as these young ladies! Thank you for your investment in our future!

  6. So interesting to see what the young artists are doing and their thought processes! Thanks for sponsoring this, Lyn.

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