The first Young Artist Show occurred in the spring of 1941, demonstrating the Rockford Art Association’s (now Rockford Art Museum’s) commitment to young, emerging artists in the greater Rockford area. The exhibition included 57 artworks of various media by 28 artists, including high school upper-classmen and college-age artists. The choice to make the Young Artist Show a part of the museum’s annual exhibition schedule revealed the museum’s understanding of the dynamic role that art experiences and art education play in the lives of young people.
Since its inception the Young Artist Show has evolved and grown to become a Rockford tradition. Today, the popular exhibition bears a reputation of excellence, expanding from its modest local beginnings to become a regional show featuring students from public, private, parochial and home-school settings. It is consistently Rockford Art Museum’s most popular exhibition of the year.
The exhibition now includes two distinct exhibits that recognize and celebrate outstanding students and the dedicated teachers who contribute to the quality of artwork submitted. The juried High School Division includes approximately 300 artworks by over 200 high school students. Students entering the High School Division compete for more than $2,000 in scholarship and recognition awards. The Youth Division includes artwork in a variety of media by kindergarten through eighth grade students from the Rockford area. Art teachers select the work to be included in the exhibition. About 500 students’ pieces are displayed in the Youth Division. Both divisions of the exhibition showcase an amazing array of exceptional student artwork and present the strength and diversity of art programs across the region.