Art contest winners focus on victims of crime

A very special art contest at Pine Bluff High School came to an end Monday when the winners were announced. Those winners will have their work displayed at the Jefferson County Courthouse at the end of the month, as well as at a memorial service next month for victims of crime and their families.

The Rev. Edna Morgan of Healing Place Ministries presented certificates to the winners of the contest, which Morgan said was a way to get young people involved in National Crime Victims Rights Week.

“This is an emotional display,” Morgan said to the winners, all girls, whose works were designed around the national theme, “30 Years, Restoring the Balance of Justice.”

First-place winner Artisha Rainey’s painting showed the Statue of Liberty with hands covering the face. Rainey said the painting was meant to show “how ashamed we all should be about crime.

“There won’t be balance until the city can come back together and be strong again,” Rainey said.

The other winners were:

• Lacatherine Williams, second place.

• Taleah Hudson and Candace Lewis, tied for third.

The contest had special meaning to Virgina Hymes, an art teacher at Pine Bluff High School.

In 2011, Kadedra Washington, 16, who was a student of Hymes, was shot at a local park and later died at Jefferson Regional Medical Center.

Kenneth Ray Burton, then 19, was convicted of misdemeanor negligent homicide after a trial that lasted two days in 2012. He was sentenced to six months in the county jail and served that sentence. Burton was rearrested last November on a charge of second-degree murder after allegedly admitting he struck Antonio Jenkins in the head during an altercation at 212 W. Fourth Ave. The state medical examiner ruled that the blow resulted in the death of Jenkins, 23.

“When she left my seventh-period class, I didn’t know that would be the last time I would see her,” Hymes said of Washington. “It was about this time of year and we were working on the prom when all the kids started running and screaming and saying Kadedra had been shot.

“It made me appreciate not to take life for granted because you never know when it is going to end,” Hymes said.

Hymes said that for the past few years, there has been a table at the school’s prom called the Memory Lane Corner, to recognize students who have died during the course of the year.

“I pray that this year that we don’t have to have one of those tables,” Hymes said, adding that so far this year, no students have died or been killed.

Morgan said the students’ work will be displayed at the courthouse from March 31 to April 4, and at the 10th annual Crime Victim Survivors Memorial Service on April 6 at First Christian Church where the artists will receive “special recognition.”

“These works show how much you care,” Morgan said to the students. “You’re restoring hope to people who often times feel hopeless.”