Youth art displays at The Mill

Xavier Smith • Updated May 31, 2016 at 12:00 PM

More than two-dozen local art students will have their works displayed at The Mill for the next month after an exhibit grand opening took place Thursday.

The works are from more than 30 students of Harriett Hodges’ art class and feature a wide range of subjects and techniques. The students, aged 3-18, are from Wilson County and surrounding areas.

Several people packed the exhibit at The Mill and the event highlighted the effect Hodges’ has on her students, although she said she started teaching by accident nine years ago.

Hodges said she started teaching after a close friend decided to homeschool her children. The mother said she did not have trouble teaching any subject, except art. She asked Hodges if she would teach her girls if she found other students and Hodges agreed.

Hodges, at the time, had taught at the college level, but had not taught children.

“I have been working as an artist for more years than I care to think about and that work was in commercial design,” said Hodges, who said her work included restaurants and hotels.

Hodges’ journey took her from California to Mississippi, Memphis and eventually Lebanon. She was designing in Nashville when life circumstances made her scale back her work, which is when she was asked to teach art classes.

Some students whose art is on display have been with Hodges since the beginning, including Alana Hilpert, who received full scholarships to summer programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, Savannah College of Art and Design and The Governor’s School of the Arts.

“I’m really fortunate to have some for eight and nine years. I really stress drawing. It’s one thing I feel very strongly about. Drawing to an artist is like scales to a musician. The most important thing I can do is teach them to see. I hope they see things differently and stop and appreciate the simple things that we sometimes miss and don’t appreciate,” she said.

Hodges’ said the art on display was created using three primary colors – blue, red and yellow ­– along with black and white. Students in her class learn to mix the colors to find the desired colors.

However, Hodges said her class is more than just art, which could be the result of one of her influential teachers.

“My piano teacher had a massive impact on my life. Sometimes we would just sit and talk and not touch the piano. I hope I have brought something into their lives they wouldn’t have gotten somewhere else,” said Hodges, who said her class, which are held at her home, also includes movie nights, classical music lessons and emphasis on reading.

“The younger kids are most interested in playing in my yard and climbing trees. Even those who have graduated to the teenage class still love to be outside and climb trees,” she said.

Hodges still works out of her studio at home, primarily on portraits and said she enjoys the company.

“Like I’ve said, the art class just fell into my lap and it has been a life changing experience. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I love teenagers. They have brought so much joy to my life.”

Along with Hilpert, artists on display include: Abby Bean; Addison Bell; Chapel Bell; Grace Christianson; Harrison Griffis; Elise Hilpert; Elizabeth Rogers; Molly Rothe; Elizabth Stahl; Maggie Anderson; Jack Anderson; Julie Baker; Arlie Birket; Mason Birket; Keaton Borgeson; Rosie Borgeson; Winston Dugdale; Olivia Dugdale; Chloe Foutch; Madison Storey; Hannah Brooks; Noah Brooks; Katie Doyle; Brenae Fox; Elia; Kate Gill; Lucy Hall; Aubrey Hicks; Maggie Rothe; Mia Scruggs; Macy Scruggs; Cayman Welser and Lily Reese.

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