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Central Kansas League Art Festival at McPherson College Provides One-Day Competition to High School Artists

Don’t blink – you just might miss what’s quite likely the shortest art exhibit in Kansas.

For the sixth straight year, the Central Kansas League has accepted McPherson College’s invitation to hold its annual art festival in the professional-level gallery space and classrooms at MC. It’s a frenetic, exciting event as a full exhibition is put up and taken down, all within the space of a few hours.

Looking at the approximately 350 works on display, this year’s jurist – Teresa Preston of Hutchinson Community College – said she was impressed by the students’ evident talent.

“I know my job is going to be hard today,” Preston said. “Which is great because it means the arts are still alive in rural Kansas.”

The festival was on April 27, and offers workshops and a professionally juried, one-day exhibition for some of the best student artists at Sterling, Halstead, Hesston, Hillsboro, Haven, Kingman, Lyons, Nickerson, Pratt, Smoky Valley (Lindsborg), Larned and Hoisington.

About 110 high school students brought work in a wide variety of media, and on all manner of subjects and styles. The art included everything from a portrait on newspaper and ink, to fabric batik of abstract human forms, to a colored pencil drawing of swallows growing lavender from their wings.

While their work was judged, the young high school artists got to learn new skills in professional-level workshops – including jewelry, watercolors, packaging design, portraiture, and oil painting.

Wayne Conyers, McPherson College professor of art, said that the league festival used to be held in high school gymnasiums, with work hung on chicken wire. The workshops, meanwhile, were often held in unsuitable classrooms and even hallways.

In 2010, the head of the league that year proposed that the next festival be held at McPherson College. Conyers arranged to have MC as the festival’s host for 2011. The league has asked McPherson College to host the festival every year since.

Now instead of gymnasiums, students hang their work in McPherson College’s Friendship Hall gallery. Instead of hallways, high school students get to experience true college-level art studios.


The award winners in the 2016 Central Kansas League Art Festival exhibition are:

Best of Show: Anna Carroll, Sterling – “Youthful Stare”

Gold Medals:

  • Michaela Fisher, Halstead – “Meggie”
  • Tristan Smith, Larned – “Self-Portrait”
  • Karen Rodriguez, Lyons – “Lady in the Window”
  • Alyssa Carlson, Smoky Valley – “Self-Portrait”
  • Teressa Cooper, Smoky Valley – “Good Times”
  • Beck Elliot, Smoky Valley – “Bird”
  • Allison Rose, Smoky Valley – “Rainy Day”
  • Erin Anderson, Sterling – “One Direction”
  • Julie Carroll, Sterling – “Youthful Stare”
  • Codi Custer, Sterling – “Time Passes”
  • Jody Gunther, Sterling – “City Lights”
  • Veronica Norez, Sterling – “Get Me Out” and “Cobblestone Way”
  • Shelby Schroeder, Sterling – “Illuminated”
  • Kaci Wilson, Sterling – “Peaks” and “En Pointe”

Silver Medals:

  • Layke Heimerman, Halstead – “Mother to Mother” and “Mother Theresa”
  • Jennifer Applequist, Larned – “Saluki”
  • Lauren Mauley, Lyons – “In Thought”
  • Baily Bolden, Smoky Valley – “Violin”
  • Alyssa Carlson, Smoky Valley – “Flower Child”
  • Beck Elliot, Smoky Valley – “Talon” and “Torso”
  • Allison Rose, Smoky Valley – “The City”
  • Kathryn Wilson, Smoky Valley – “Holocene”
  • Conan Ball, Sterling – “Brown, Blue, Gold”
  • Codi Custer, Sterling – “Venice”
  • Jody Gunther, Sterling – “Enduring Love”
  • Emma Horsch, Sterling – “Clunker”
  • Harrison Randolph, Sterling – “The Fox”
  • Kennedy Klein, Hillsboro – “The Eye”

Honorable Mention:

  • Cara Weber, Halstead – Untitled
  • Katrina Heinrichs, Hesston – “Lavender Swallows”
  • Brenna Peters, Hesston – “Let’s Play Chess”
  • Allison Gray, Hillsboro – “Look”
  • Lydia Kliewer, Hillsboro – “The Lonely Screw”
  • Nick Doerschlag, Hoisington – “Racoon”
  • Courtney Beck, Kingman – “Prisoner of War”
  • Jennifer Applequist, Larned – “Self-Portrait”
  • Maddie McAllister, Lyons – “Seth”
  • Mallory Vesper, Lyons – “Ballerina”
  • Jessica Weiford, Lyons – “Mom & Baby”
  • Joshua Johnson, Nickerson – “Oak Leaf”
  • Bre Becker, Pratt – Untitled
  • Alyssa Carlson, Smoky Valley – “Beads”
  • Meredith Galloway, Smoky Valley – “Feather Frenzy”
  • Emi Johnson, Smoky Valley – “Grandpa”
  • Julia Wilson, Smoky Valley – “Vase”
  • Kelsie Boeken, Sterling – “Overturned”
  • Anna Carroll, Sterling – “String Music”
  • Jody Gunther, Sterling – “Books”
  • Veronica Noret, Sterling – “Sparks”
  • Jessica Ricker, Sterling – “Reflected Glory”
  • Maddie Thrasher, Sterling – “Take a Peek”