The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a yearly staple of Houston culture, as highly anticipated to adults and children as Christmas or Halloween. The event boasts a carnival, cook-offs, signature fair food, concerts, and, of course, the titular livestock show. An annual event for Texas pride and merriment, it is important to highlight the educational impacts that the rodeo has for HISD students.
Rodeo Houston sponsors more than $14 million a year in awarded scholarships for Texas high schoolers, including FFA scholarships, military scholarships, and the Rodeo Houston School Art Contest.
Of the thousands of works of student art submitted, only 75 pieces are selected for submission into the rodeo art auction. Of the 75 pieces chosen this year, HISD students account for 11, and Westside High School’s Amelia Gu placed 46th.
The auction is a terrific opportunity for student artists to showcase their work to a massive number of people and to potentially sell their piece for a guaranteed premium. The premium is determined by the piece’s placement in the contest, and each premium has a corresponding monetary cap. Any money received over that cap goes to the rodeo’s Education Fund to be used for scholarship and grant recipients.
HISD Fine Arts has assembled a task force of instructors who, through professional development and strategizing, help teachers to best prepare their students for the competition.
“We try to urge our teachers to think outside of the box when it comes to rodeo art,” said Fine Arts Curriculum Specialist Rickey Palidore. The kind of art selected for auction are typically photorealistic works, but this year, in addition to beautiful pieces that offer intimately lifelike glimpses into rodeo culture, two of the award-winning pieces—Space City Desert by Bobby Lam and Twisted Horns by Ellen Phillips—are abstract. “This is not what Rodeo Art is, historically. The fact that they chose an abstract work of art brought a tear to my eye.”
In addition to possibly winning money to fund their futures, student artists also have the benefit of dedicating hours of class time to their rodeo art pieces which can then be used in their professional portfolios and on college and scholarship applications.
“Usually with the School Art Contest, the work of art is created specifically for the rodeo,” Palidore said. “I think that the students really created them for themselves this year and forced others to be accepting of their vision.”
Aviia Urdiales, a senior at Austin High School, said that the experience of creating her rodeo art piece has helped her to be more open with her art. “It helped me to get out of my box a little bit more,” Urdiales said. Though this is only her second year competing in the School Art Contest, Urdiales’s black and white drawing of a sleeping basset hound earned her a gold medal in this year’s competition.
The award-winning rodeo art pieces will be in display in the lobby of the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center (4400 West 18th Street, 77092) until March 20. To learn more about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s School Art Contest and their various scholarship opportunities, visit their website.