CUSD Annual Showcase at the CCA Reflects on Year of Challenges and Perspectives

April 26, 2021
| by:
Communications and Public Affairs

For more than two decades, Chandler Unified School District’s annual showcase offers students the chance to display their artwork in a real-life gallery setting, open for the public to see. 

After taking a year off as school adapted to COVID-19, burgeoning artists from Basha, Hamilton, Perry, Erie, Casteel and Chandler high schools have once again put their talents and viewpoints on display at the Gallery at the Chandler Center for the Arts.

The 2020-2021 school year was an unusual experience for students, with many attending school remotely for part of the year. Much of the artwork in this year’s showcase takes a magnifying glass to the emotions felt by students during a strange and challenging time. 

“In a year where so much has changed and we have faced many challenges, our students and teachers continue to create, connect and inspire us with their art,” said Angela Storey, Fine Arts Academic Coach for CUSD. “They help us pause and reflect. They help us see the world from a different perspective. There is so much beauty and hope in the work our students have created.”

CUSD Annual Showcase at the CCA

The Chandler Center for the Arts operates under a unique partnership between the Chandler Unified School District and the City of Chandler. Sharing the space offers an opportunity for students to have access to a professional art gallery to showcase their work.

"The annual CUSD student showcase is a fan favorite for the CCA staff, who always enjoy these artistic creations,” said Peter Bugg, visual arts coordinator for the City of Chandler. “After skipping the show in 2020 due to COVID, we are especially happy to present the work in 2021."

Karen Tabor teaches several drawing, painting and AP Studio Art classes at Hamilton High School. Tabor said shows like these serve as important reminders to students that the arts matter, and their involvement in the arts matters. 

“The funding and exposure for the arts and arts programming has gone down over the years,” Tabor said. “The arts are everywhere in society and are so valuable. They bridge cultural gaps, influence pop culture and persuade minds.”

After a year with no show, teachers and students entered 143 total submissions to welcome the show back to life. The categories for the 2021 showcase are:

  • Ceramics
  • Dark Room Photography
  • Design/Mixed Media/Collage
  • Digital Photography
  • Drawing
  • Jewelry
  • Painting
  • Sculpture 

Teachers like Tabor submit up to two pieces per load hour they teach to be judged by members of the Chandler Arts Commission. This year’s judges were commission members Jose Benavides and Farhana Ahmed.


The judges selected 102 pieces of the 143 submitted to display in the show, and a first, second and third place award were selected for each category. The show also recognizes two top winners, Best of Show for 2D and Best of Show for 3D. These students receive a bag of art supplies and a plaque recognizing their achievement. 

This year, the Best-in-Show winners were Ella Butler from Hamilton High School (3D) and Hailey Schramm from Casteel High School (2D).

Tabor said shows like the annual showcase reinforce to students the power of arts in the community. 

“The arts are innovative and creative endeavors to pursue, and students need to feel that encouragement,” Tabor said. “There are students presented in these art shows that do continue on with the arts after high school. After a year like this, just to present anything is a wonderful opportunity for these students.” View the Showcase at the Gallery at the Chandler Center for the Arts."

View the Showcase at the Gallery at the Chandler Center for the Arts

Visit the CUSD 2021 annual showcase from now until May 6 at the Gallery at the Chandler Center for the Arts, located at 250 N Arizona Ave. Admission to the Gallery is always free. Hours are 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.