Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Dancing through life: University student scratches out a masterpiece

A 17-year-old rising senior at University High School claimed first place in Jonesborough’s Open Juried Art Exhibition student component earlier this month.
“I was behind the stage when they were giving out the awards,” said Cassie Brooks, adding that a gentleman came into the room she was sitting in and asked her to follow him.
Before she knew it, she was on stage receiving an award for her piece, “Dancing Through Life.”
This is the first time she has entered a competition for her artwork.
“I really like making things look beautiful,” she said.
This year, the student component was added to the Jonesborough Open Juried Art Exhibition thanks to an anonymous donation specifically earmarked for that purpose.
“As far as I know, the anonymous group does plan to support next year’s student competition,” McKinney Center Director Theresa Hammons said. “As long as we have the funding, we will continue to do it.”
She said for high school students to have their artwork exhibited alongside professionals is “pretty astounding.”
Because of the donation, Brooks received a $300 cash award for her scratch piece of artwork of a ballerina, as well as an art class of her choice through the Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts this fall.
“We were really excited to receive the anonymous donation for that purpose because part of the mission for the Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts is to make art accessible for everybody,” Hammons said.
She said having funds to be able to sustain those scholarships is a blessing.
“We can make our classes accessible to students that may not have had the opportunity,” Hammons said.
Brooks submitted artwork that stemmed from a school assignment she had in her art class at University High School.
She said she took a little metal tool and scratched a ballerina out of waxy black paper.
The scratch technique is kind of hard, Brooks said, because there is no room for error.
“You can’t mess up at all because there is no way to fix a mistake,” she explained.
Approximately one hour per day for a week, Brooks spent time paying close attention to her shadowing, as well as drawing individual lines far apart to create an illusion.
“I didn’t have a name until I entered the competition,” she said of her artwork.
The name for her masterpiece was inspired by her recently watching “Wicked” in Nashville.
The subject of her artwork, she explained, came from her love of looking at paintings of ballerinas getting ready to perform.
“I like the look of a ballerina,” Brooks said, adding that she, too, is a dancer.
Although art has been a part of her life for numerous years due to the art classes offered in elementary and middle school, it was not until about a year ago she really became interested.
This year in her art class, she had the opportunity to work with acrylic paint, watercolors, pen and ink, pencils and colored pencils, as well as making sculptures out of clay.
“I really like the acrylic paint and the scratch art,” Brooks said.
Her new-found passion for art will remain as a hobby due to her true interest of pursuing a career in theater.
This past semester, Brooks had the opportunity to participate in a dual enrollment class in acting at East Tennessee State University, which she said was “very fun.”
She loves musicals because of the high energy they entail.
Her artistic abilities also include singing.
A few months ago, Brooks participated in the Johnson City’s Got Talent contest and won the 15 and over vocalist category for singing “A Wonderful Guy” from “South Pacific.”