By Desiree Johnson

Killeen Daily Herald

Just inside the Cultural Activities Center in Temple, visitors were wowed by almost 3,500 pieces of children's artwork, framed in bright colors and stretching from floor to ceiling of the CAC's 30-foot walls.

The 12th annual student art exhibit, "Artworks 2008," celebrated its opening Monday night featuring a ribbon cutting and showcasing works by area students, pre-kindergarten through high school.

The exhibit "just gets better every year," said Marilyn Ritchie, CAC visual arts director. "It's an awesome experience to see so many different ideas, and a lot is fine art that I wouldn't mind hanging in my living room. I think people will be surprised at the quality of work displayed here."

Schools from all over Central Texas, including private schools and home schools, volunteered finished artwork for the exhibit in multiple mediums that ranged from charcoal drawings to ceramic sculptures.

Students from the Stauss School of Art volunteered, among other works, a collection of Hawaiian petroglyphs, an art form based on the ancient Hawaiian practice of using rock carvings to document experiences and special occasions.

Susan Stauss, Stauss School of Art owner, said the exhibit is a great opportunity to get assignment ideas from other art teachers and is an exciting first-time experience for her students.

"To have our little school's art out there with all these other big schools is just huge," Stauss said. "It makes the students feel so good about themselves, since art is their thing and not all kids do sports or other extracurriculars."

In conjunction with celebrating student artwork and art teachers, the exhibit also celebrated the 50th birthday of the CAC. Families of two of three main founders, Azalee Marshall and Nora Lee Wendland, were in attendance as well as third founder Raye Virginia Allen. The great-great grandson of Azalee Marshall even blew out a 50th birthday candle on the CAC birthday cake during the opening.

Ritchie said that incorporating the exhibit opening with the 50th birthday celebration is fitting because of what the CAC stands for.

"This is what we're all about," Ritchie said. "We're here to inspire the kids and art teachers in our community."

The exhibit is available for both guided tours or individual browsing during the CAC's open hours, Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call (254) 773-9926.

Contact Desiree Johnson at or call (254) 501-7559

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