Two student art exhibits opening this week provide an artistic counterpart to spring sprouts: works by young artists with a fresh eye.

At Baylor University’s Martin Museum of Art, students in Baylor’s studio art classes created the 72 pieces in this year’s Baylor Art Student Exhibition. At Art Center of Waco, it’s nearly 40 artworks from area high school artists that makes up the 10th annual Top Young Artists show.

Both exhibits display juried or curated work in a variety of media: painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and textiles (in the Baylor exhibit), digital media and more.

Alison Hearst, assistant curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, served as curator of the Baylor art student show, winnowing more than 200 submissions down to 72. What did she look for? “I followed my instincts . . . and looked for what was conceptually interesting and visually striking,” she explained.

What visitors will find in the Baylor student art show is a wide range of expression, from oversized fiber work to photographs accompanied by audio. “It’s a lot of work in a small space and there’s a lot of variety,” said Hearst, who will speak and help hand out awards I was impressed with the quality of work — paintings, photographs, sculptures. It’s a really strong show.”

A panel of local artists, teachers and art professionals made the selections for the Top Young Artists competition, which invites entries from student artists at McLennan County high schools, both public and private. This year’s show has 38 entries with awards given to the leading pieces in categories such as oil and acrylic painting, watercolor, drawing, mixed media and digital media.

“This is the best of the best,” said Lance Magid, owner of Studio Gallery and a driving force in the high school visual art contest that he and his parents Pat and Mike started a decade ago. “It’s amazing, the quality of work you see here.”

The annual contest sets no themes for artists, but each year features several creations connected by subject or concept. As viewers will see at the Art Center of Waco show, faces are a popular subject this year as is humor and whimsy.

Student artists and their teachers will be on hand for Thursday’s opening reception at Art Center of Waco, at which award and scholarship winners will be announced.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor