The West Nebraska Arts Center figured out a way to highlight the art of area students while keeping with social distancing regulations.

The 35th Visionaries Student Art exhibit will be a digital show at until April 26.

Program manager Stephanie Coley said the decision for a digital show was made because of the students.

“We thought it was important because the students get so excited about this show and look forward to it each year,” Coley said. “WNAC staff looks forward to this show as well. So when the pandemic took away the option of having the show, we wanted to still spread a positive event.”

She pointed out that students have lost a lot of the things they were looking forward to because of COVID-19, and WNAC didn’t want the art show to be one of them.

A total of 105 entries were submitted to the Student Art Exhibit by 89 artists in grades 6-12. The judge, Steve Settles, selected 21 entries for awards.

“It really gives you that burst,” he wrote in his remarks. “It is an abstract piece that keeps your eyes moving through the piece. My response to it is excellent.”

“Color Blast” by Bluffs Middle School student Faith Perry earned Best in Show. Settles praised her mix of lines and colors.

Settles has created art in several forms from pottery to stained-glass windows. He’s also created life-sized bronzes and owned a foundry for 40 years.

Now he works to instill a passion for art in others through education.

Coley said the number of entries was down this year, but the staff was still excited about the entries they received.

“It really is a different experience to see the art in person,” Coley said.

WNAC always wants to encourage community involvement and foot traffic, but in light of COVID-19, she knew she’d have to take a different approach.

It was her first time putting together a large virtual show. She’s also put the exhibit by artist Peggy Murphy online since her show was cut short in March.

Coley doesn’t know what the future holds for virtual shows, but she knew that this one needed to happen.

“This is a difficult, uncertain time in the world right now,” Coley said. “We wanted to let our youth know we are still thinking about you.”

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at

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