From left, East Mississippi Community College students Madison Sherrill, Breelyn Smith and Haidi Salihaj earned awards in the 2024 Mississippi Community/Junior College Art Instructors Association’s Student Art Exhibition and Competition.

March 25, 2024

Three students from East Mississippi Community College’s Golden Triangle campus earned awards in the 2024 Mississippi Community/Junior College Art Instructors Association’s Student Art Exhibition and Competition.

Breelyn Smith earned second place in the Drawing Category. Madison Sherrill garnered third place in 2D Design, and Haidi Salihaj finished third in the Printmaking category.

All three students graduate in May and are taking classes taught by EMCC art instructor Cynthia Buob.

“They are all very good students,” Buob said. “They concentrate and work hard. They trust the process, which is important. I am proud of them.”

Students from community colleges across the state compete in the annual competition hosted by a different college each year. The host this year is Southwest Mississippi Community College, where artwork submitted for the competition is on display until March 27 when a reception will take place to recognize the winners.

About 150 pieces of two-dimensional artwork, which encompasses the categories Buob’s students competed in, were submitted for the competition, with six of those coming from students in Buob’s class.

“I knew with so many two-dimensional pieces of art submitted and the number of pieces we had entered that our chances were not that good,” Buob said. “But I’m not surprised our students did as well as they did because their pieces are all very good.”

Smith’s charcoal drawing titled “Wine Still Life” depicts various objects that include a wine glass, grapes, a teacup and a bottle.

“I am quite excited,” Smith said of her second-place finish.

A Starkville resident, Smith is majoring in graphic design and plans to apply to an art school after graduating from EMCC.

“I’m interested in drawing,” she said. “Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of fashion design.”

Sherrill, of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, is also majoring in graphic design. Her piece titled “Year of the Dragon” was the result of a class assignment in which students were tasked with creating artwork from three windows outlined on a page.

“In the top window I created a Japanese inspired background of mountains and a temple and there is a dragon bursting through the windows,” Sherrill said.

Sherrill, who has a summer internship lined up after graduating from EMCC, has experience working in graphic design in the field of eSports. While she plans to complete her bachelor’s degree, Sherrill is considering entering the workforce after her internship is complete.

Salihaj’s depiction of a hummingbird for the Printmaking category is titled “Amazing Grace.”

A native of Italy who resides in Starkville, Salihaj is majoring in special education. She plans to earn both a master’s degree and doctorate in special education from Mississippi State University, with minors in Spanish and art.

“I would really love to open a facility for children with special needs and include art,” she said. “I love art and think it helps children, especially those with special needs.”