Walking around the Calhoun Coffee Company, Nya Lucas let potential buyers skim through her sketch book as others admired her canvas titled “Myriad of Minds.” A piece made of foam, acrylic paint, house paint and polyurethane, Lucas’ work was sold within minutes of being on display.

Lucas, a 10th-grader at Georgia Cumberland Academy, said the art show hosted on Tuesday night gave her a platform to express how she feels, but to also understand “art is about telling a story.”

Tuesday night, after the Calhoun Coffee Company typically closes their doors for the day, high school students, parents and teachers crowded their way into the cafe for an art show. With Academy students’ work on display and canvases ranging in size, the goal of the night was not only to support art in schools, but to get youth artwork into the public eye.

Academy art teacher Lauren Anderson said the theme of her assignment was to use abstract styles, action and gestural movements to create pieces. Some students worked alone, some on teams, but by the time Tuesday hit, the venue was filled with artwork of varying sizes, styles and purposes.

“This did not turn out the way we imagined,” sophomore Cameron Morrison said, gesturing to the painting she worked on with three other students. “We always turned out with a really nice product, but then it would dry and we would want to add another color and we always ruined it.”

Morrison, who worked on “Happy Accidents,” said her team wasn’t sure how the art show would go, especially considering how many times they had to start over.

“We redid it seven or eight times,” said Becky James, another member of Morrison’s team. “We messed up so many times, but over time we thought it looked good. I didn’t think it would sell, though.”

Yet James underestimated their piece, as it sold quickly into the show, just like Lucas’s.

Zackery Woods, said “Happy Accidents” was modeled after a Jackson Pollock canvas, and though they messed up, he learned that art is something you have to keep trying at, even when it doesn’t turn out how you expect it to.

Anderson, who has been teaching art for years now, says “art is an equalizer,” uniting people, students and communities. And in some cases, art offers a sense of healing.

The power of art

As an Atlanta native, Lucas lives in the dorms at the Academy. And at the beginning of her sophomore year, her mother unexpectedly died. She had to take time off school, and after reflecting on this time in her life, Lucas said she wanted to use this art assignment as a tribute to some of her realizations following her mother’s death.

“I had to take this experience to learn from and grow from so when I was doing my piece, a lot of lines represent the decisions I could make or that I have made, and they all connect in some way,” Lucas said.

“All my experiences form who I am right now and who I’m going to become,” said Lucas, explaining the reason why she created her piece the way she did. “This piece is the positive that came from a negative past.”

Though she has more time before college, Lucas said she is thinking about going to art school and being in Anderson’s class has encouraged her to express herself through creative processes. Surprised that her work even sold in the first place, Lucas said she was so excited and “wouldn’t trade this feeling for anything.”

The proceeds from the art show will go both into further developing the Academy’s art department and also into the artists’ pockets, which Anderson said she hopes will teach students about the business of selling art.

“I have the best job in the world, teaching art to kids,” Anderson said. “The thing that really gets me is the spark. That motivates me as an educator, to find the spark whatever that is and help them grow in that.”

The art teacher has many projects in mind for the next academic year, including art-related community service projects, working with the Harris Arts Center and having more local art shows.