Student conquers competitive art program


In downtown Austin, the renowned Contemporary Austin offers a program called Young Artists for high school students interested in the arts. Cynthia Acevedo, a teacher in Rouse High School’s art department, knew just the student to apply. Avery Strait, a junior, hopes to continue pursuing her love of art professionally. 

“I encouraged her to apply to the program,” Acevedo said. “She’s super determined to do something in the arts.”

The program, although free, is very competitive. Students must be recommended and there is an application process to complete before being considered for a spot in the course. The free pre-professional arts program introduces creative careers, explores contemporary culture and provides portfolio development. The classes take place for 10 consecutive Saturdays during the fall and spring school semesters. 

“It was basically an art class on steroids,” Strait said. “You’re dipping hands in every bucket.”

The high school artists received one-on-one portfolio reviews, participated in a public display their portfolio’s at the museum, worked with local artists during guest artist workshops and studio visits, attended field trips to local arts institutions and studios and explored new art mediums and techniques. 

“They gave us all kinds of art supplies to keep,” Strait said. “It was like Christmas.” 

She said she enjoyed working with others and learning their techniques while in the workshop.

“We did a lot of collaborative pieces,” she said. “I learned to work with different artists and their styles.” 

Strait plans to study printmaking in college. She hopes some of the connections she made during the program will help guide her in the right direction.

“She’s already headstrong and determined,” Acevedo said. “This will only help her further.”