Hollie Nowlan never figured the bond she shares with her sister and the family dog would lead to a piece of her artwork being selected for the 2024 Texas Art Education Association’s Youth Art Month exhibit.

The Abilene High School freshman’s selection led to Nowlan’s piece – titled “Calmness” – being on exhibit at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, which showcases Pre-K through 12th grade works of art from students across the state. The exhibit will be part of the museum through March, and Nowlan and other students who had artwork selected for the exhibition will be honored at an awards ceremony on March 10 at 11 a.m. at the Bullock Museum.

Nowlan’s painting is of her younger sister, Kailee, and the family dog, each caught in quiet reflection. The work is important to Nowlan because it depicts them in that moment and expresses the bond between the three.

“My painting shows how much I love my sister and our dog,” she said. “And it displays my skill in art.”

Nowlan’s art teacher, Kelly Fuller, said the title of the painting comes from a quote by cultural anthropologist and author Ralph H. Blum, who said, “There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” Students could choose a quote from a sheet or create one on their own, Fuller said, and it was Blum’s words that spoke to Nowlan.

Hollie is a wonderful, sweet, and brilliant student,” Fuller said. “Her artwork comes from a place of thoughtfulness, patience, and, like her painting, calmness. She always tries to capture happy moments through art and bring joy to others who view it.

“Her technique is very advanced and impressive: her skin tones, color theory use, texture, and careful placement of every detail,” Fuller said. “Many former art teachers, peers, administrators, and I are very proud and excited for her to have this wonderful and well-deserved accomplishment. She is just getting started.”

Nowlan said she’s grateful to be allowed to showcase her art and skill to a larger audience.

“I’m very fortunate to have my art displayed in the state museum, and I’m just very grateful I had the opportunity to do so in the first place,” she said. “Representing AISD with my art means so much to me.”