Kingwood Park High School senior Emily Callens was named 3D Class Champion at the 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) school art contest for her Western sculpture, “This One’s for You.” Callens’ sculpture was auctioned at the rodeo and brought in $88,000 for the HLSR. Callens was awarded prize money of $7,500 for her winning entry.
“This One’s for You" was a labor of love for Callens, who spent hundreds of hours over two months working on the clay sculpture. She said the name of the sculpture is a tribute to the rodeo volunteers.
“I dedicated the sculpture to all the people involved in the Houston Rodeo," said Callens. "They spend countless hours and put forth tremendous effort to provide opportunities and scholarships to kids like me. Their generosity is untouchable and amazes me year after year as they never fail to bless the lives of others. The name was also in thanks to my parents, grandparents, friends and extended family members for all they do. As a senior in high school, it being my last sculpture, it was my way to say thank you for all the years."
Callens has entered the art contest each year since kindergarten, and her artwork has been displayed at the rodeo each of the past five years. Last year, she won second place and was named the 3D Reserve Class Champion for a sculpture of a bucking bull and rider, which sold at auction for $44,000. Callens said inspiration for her sculptures comes from her love of action and rodeo events.
“I love the challenge of working with action and getting things on one leg, etc.," said Callens.
Dave Leiper, vice chairman of the judges on the HLSR School Art Committee, said Callens’ sculpture was chosen as Class Champion because “it captures the true heritage of the Wild West. Having the talent to capture not only the moment, but the movement of men and animals in action is very difficult to do in clay. Emily has continued to improve every year in our competition and represents the kind of artist we love to support in our program.”
Making a sculpture of the caliber of Callens’ requires a lot of hard work, dedication and experience. Callens has been studying art for many years, both at home with her mother and at school. She also attended the Museum of Fine Art Houston’s Glassell School of Art on a scholarship. Callens plans to continue practicing art this fall, when she begins studying photography at Brigham Young University in Utah.
The clay version of “This One’s for You” will be cast in bronze for the winning bidders. The winning bid of $88,000 came from a group of 15 individuals: Rene and Taylor Whitaker, George Buschardt, Julie and Alan Kent, Becky and Kelly Joy, Kim and Todd Nelms, Heather and Sean Congdon, Tracey and Landon Ehlinger, and Lisa and Tom Laird.
HLSR is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to benefiting youth, supporting education, and facilitating better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the HLSR has committed nearly $430 million to the youth of Texas.