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story.lead_photo.caption <p>News Tribune file</p><p><strong>Guests look through submissions to a school art contest in February at the Jefferson City Museum of Modern Art. The museum&#8217;s annual high school art contest will be next month.</strong></p>

Fall has officially begun, and the Jefferson City Museum of Modern Art is preparing for its annual fall high school art contest.

This year's contest will seek entries from ninth- to 12th-grade students that are original abstract pieces that express personal vision, imagination and passion, according to the contest rules. The contest defines abstract expressionism as "diverse styles and techniques emphasizing an artist's creativity to convey attitudes and emotions."

Chris Duren, docent and museum manager, said the museum holds three art contests each year for youth in the Jefferson City area.

"We just try to inspire and encourage as much art as we can," Duren said.

Duren said past contests have typically centered on themes, such as "Making a Better World," which was the theme for the spring middle school contest, and "Coming Together," which was the theme for the elementary school contest. For this contest, she said, they opted to go with the broader concept of abstract expressionism that allows far more flexibility for the artists.

"It allows us to really see their creativity," Duren said. "It really lets them create with whatever they are passionate about. We want them to research what abstract expressionism is and just really create something unique. We're really excited about it."

Registration opens Tuesday and goes through Oct. 20, with forms available on the museum's website. Artwork must be submitted in person to the museum during its open hours, which are 2-4 p.m. Sundays, though it can also be submitted by the student's teacher or school with the student's permission. Each submission must be an original piece and can be of any size or any medium, though digital images and photography are only allowed if they are part of a multimedia creation.

After Oct. 20, finalists will be selected, with a special exhibit to show the artwork set for 2-4 p.m. Oct. 27 at the museum on High Street. Judges will then select the winners, who will be announced Oct. 28.

Winners will receive cash prizes of $400 for first place, $300 for second, $200 for third and $100 for honorable mention.

"We have had some amazing experiences with it," Duren said of the annual contests.

For more information on the contest or to register, visit jcmoma.com.

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