TFAC celebrates student art in Showcase of Excellence

Published 12:03 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

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TRYON—On Saturday morning, the Tryon Fine Arts Center celebrated the winners of its 2024 Showcase of Excellence, featuring exceptional artistic talent from high school students in the local area. 

The showcase awards certificates and cash prizes to the top student artists and their teachers. The event also offers young artists their first opportunity to have their work exhibited in a professional gallery environment.

The 2024 Showcase of Excellence featured exceptional artistic talent from high school students in the local area. (Photo courtesy Cher Brown)

Retired art teacher Cathey Stoney served as the juror for the fine arts competition. Local high school teachers in North and South Carolina and qualified homeschoolers submitted their students’ best work in painting, drawing, sculpture, mixed media, printmaking and photography/digital media.

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“This is the best show of the year for our students,” said Polk County High School Art Teacher Jeff Thomas. “They look forward to it, and they get a lot of inspiration seeing the work of their peers.” 

In its eleventh year, the Showcase of Excellence had 118 entries and eleven local high schools participating. 

The Best in Show award went to Brihanna Rodriguez-Melendez, a junior at Dorman High School, for her watercolor painting, “Divine.”

“My painting was about trying to catch the inner and outer beauty of one of my friends and portray them daydreaming in a safe space,” said Rodriguez-Melendez.

Dorman High School art teacher Dr. Frances Vaughan of Campobello, who taught Rodriguez-Melendez, said teachers take advantage of any opportunity to show their students’ art.

“They work really hard, and TFAC is a wonderful venue where their artwork can be shown and appreciated,” said Vaughan. “The showcase is like a sporting event for our students, where they participate in a competition, and their families can come out.”

TFAC Board President Linda Haynes highlighted the importance of the event.

“I feel this is possibly the most crucial program we do,” said Haynes. “It highlights the kids and allows for their families to participate and enjoy the students’ work, making it a multi-generational event, all while highlighting the important work of our local art teachers.”

The 2024 Showcase of Excellence featured exceptional artistic talent from high school students in the local area. (Photo courtesy Cher Brown)

TFAC’s Arts, Education and Outreach programs made the prizes possible with the support of generous donors. Winning teachers were also awarded a cash prize that they may use for classroom projects. The Showcase included drawing, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture categories. 

The winners in each category are as follows: 


Best in Show: 

  • Brihanna Rodriguez-Melendez, Teacher Dr. Frances Vaughan, Dorman High School



  • First: Alyssa Lor, Dorman High School 
  • Second: Ethan Clayton, Greer High School 
  • Third: Laurie Rider, Dorman High School 
  • Honorable Mention: Olivia Cooke, Chapman High School; Savannah Cooke, Chapman High School; Sage Gordin, Chapman High School


Mixed Media: 

  • First: Kairo Holbert, Polk County High School 
  • Second: Dipika Baral, Dorman High School 
  • Third: Brihanna Rodriguez-Melendez, Dorman High School 
  • Honorable Mention: Emma Stepp, Boiling Springs High School; Brooklyn Alexander, Dorman Freshman Campus; Brantley Metcalf, Dorman High School 



  • First: Leila Crawford, Greer High School 
  • Second: Heidi Bengston, Landrum High School 
  • Third: Linda De Angelo, Boiling Springs High School
  • Honorable Mention: Michelle Hernandez Gonzalez, Polk County High School; Victoria Udensi, Dorman Freshman Campus 



  • First: Noah Cothran, Dorman Freshman Campus 
  • Second: Alaina Pence, Spartanburg Christian Academy 
  • Third: Elizabeth Qualls, Thomas Jefferson Classical 
  • Honorable Mention: Chloe Lively, E. Henderson High School; Ava Phillips, Spartanburg Christian Academy 



  • First: Addison Whitener, Dorman Freshman Campus 
  • Second: Renee Bumgardner, Dorman Freshman Campus 
  • Third: Lianshen Huang, Dorman HS 
  • Honorable Mention: Kendall Mintz, E. Henderson High School 



  • First: Svetlana Wauchope, Dorman High School 
  • Second: Gracie Torres-Trejo, Dorman High School 
  • Third: Sarah Isphording, Dorman High School 
  • Honorable Mention: Yudani Ortiz Mendoza, Dorman Freshman Campus