By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Melinda Hedrick wants her students to stand out.
“If I can give these children a place to be seen, to be appreciated and to shine that’s what I’m looking for,” she said.
Hedrick met that goal when eight of her students from Knox Middle School had their work selected to be displayed at the Rowan County Agricultural and Industrial Fair.
Seventh and eighth-grade students painted self portraits following the style of a famous artist.
Seventh-grader Malik Sloan chose to go traditional by emulating Vincent van Gogh, while, while eighth-grader Noah Squires stepped out of the box to create a work in the style of Marvel Comics.
“I really like superheroes,” Noah said. “I have probably 5,000 comic books.”
Hedrick said Noah’s portrait projected a “larger than life” image as in comics.
“He made himself the ultimate comic,” she said.
Malik said he thought his portrait might be a lost cause after he accidently dipped his brush in blue while working at home, but Hedrick helped him save the piece.
“We talked about color mixing and how even if you make a mistake you can turn it into something really good,” Hedrick said.
Noah’s piece snagged him a third place ribbon and Malik earned honorable mention.
Malik said he was surprised to receive any sort of recognition for his artwork.
“I thought I did a good job, but I didn’t think I would win anything because everyone else’s stuff was so good,” he said.
Sixth-grader Jumie Robinson brought home a second place ribbon for his version of van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
When Hedrick asked her class to add a modern twist to the classic, Jumie painted in a rocketship.
“The stars reminded me of outer space and spaceships,” he said. “I thought it was fun.”
Jumie said he was also surprised to find out he placed in the contest. He’s looking forward to taking his painting home to show it off to friends and family.
“I’m going to put it in a frame,” he said.
Malik said he’ll be hanging his portrait in his room under the sign that reads “Malik’s Masterpiece.” His family ventured out to the fair earlier this week to take a look at his work on display.
Noah said his mother took a different route of showing her pride of his work by posting a picture to Facebook.
“I was surprised it got like 40 comments in three minutes,” he said.
Other Knox students who have artwork on display at the fair include:
• Alex Summers, eighth grade, honorable mention;
• Michael Anton, eighth grade, second place;
• Ivette Salazar, seventh grade;
• Irma Cruz, sixth grade and
• Lydia Weisberg, sixth grade.
Hedrick said as the year goes on she wants to see more student work on display throughout the community.
“There are four or five other competitions and exhibitions coming up,” she said. “I’m exploring any opportunity that comes up.”
A large number of her art students will be able to show off their skills with a display during the school’s Community Hispanic Heritage Day Nov. 5.
Hedrick said she hopes to instill in her students the same love of art she has.
“Art is very therapeutic. It is a great way to express yourself in an acceptable way,” she said. “It’s also a way to be an individual and be creative.”
Hedrick, who is new to Knox this year, said she felt called to join the staff.
“I felt led to this school because I felt they needed a really good art teacher to bring them ways to shine and new ways to learn,” she said. “I want my class to be fun too.
“I want this to be a time of the day that they get to come enjoy what they are doing.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
By Sarah Campbell