Art Day brought an explosion of color and creative energy to an otherwise wet and dreary day on campus last November. More than 430 high school artists from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma came to campus to practice and display their artistic talents.

“This has been great,” said Whitney Beth, a teacher at Nevada (Mo.) High School, as her students were busy creating a colorful, life-sized mermaid on a mushroom. “This is an opportunity for our students to meet students from other schools who also enjoy art.”

Rhona Shand, chair of the Art Department, marveled at the rapid growth of Art Day over its four-year history.

“We started with a half day and about 30 students,” Shand said. “It’s a reflection of the importance students place on art.”

Shand said the event is designed to inspire students.

“It’s purpose is to get kids thinking creatively,” Shand said. “They’re not all going to go on to be artists, but they are all going to need to be able to use creative thinking, whatever careers they choose.”

Students at Art Day displayed their art and participated in a variety of events and competitions. Those included a self-portrait competition, construction of a 3-D project and a team competition based on this year’s theme, “A fish out of water.”

In the team competition, students were asked to design and create an environment in which one might find a fish out of water. The environments created by the student teams ranged from a train to a wedding chapel.

“I’m impressed with the talent many of the high school students bring to this event,” Shand said. “I hope some of them come here. And even if they go somewhere else, I hope they continue to develop their art.”