This year’s Youth Artist Exhibition, a program offered by the Blue Springs North branch of Mid-Continent Public Library, will be the first in its 10-year history to hold an awards ceremony for its participants.

Sarah Gamble, assistant branch manager at Blue Springs North, said they wanted to go the extra mile for the exhibition after 10 years of encouraging young artists to pursue their passions. Having the awards ceremony will allow the young artists to have a platform to discuss their art.

“I want our artists to get an opportunity at this time to share what inspired them, why they make art,” she said.

This year’s exhibit was pushed along faster than previous years, in order to make sure it ends before library renovations this summer, Gamble said. Normally judging for the competition takes place in July, but this year judges will critique the pieces today.

Judges are made up of teachers who have taught art or are artists themselves, Gamble said, as well as library employees with experience in design.

The submissions come from all backgrounds, lining the walls of the library with anything from paintings to photography. Gamble said the exhibit draws feedback from library patrons, even those who don’t have participating children.

“It shows them the talent that’s in the place they live. We don’t often get to see the great ideas that our youth have,” she said. “We have all types of people visit us. Regardless of whether or not you have school age children you can still appreciate the talent we have in our community.”

Gamble came up with the idea for the program while working with homeschool groups, realizing many do not have the opportunity to display their work in a venue where others can appreciate it. After considering the idea, the program was opened to any student who wanted to participate. Gamble said 10 years ago she didn’t imagine the program lasting a full decade.

“I had no idea. … I’ve had a lot of people help me keep everything curated,” she said.

The exhibit’s categories feature drawing, painting, photography, graphic art and sculpture, and a mixed media category combining two or more artistic mediums. Students are separated into age ranges within the categories. Submitted pieces are judged on four factors, looking at the originality of the piece, the technique used to create it, its general aesthetic appearance and its overall difficulty.

The awards ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Blue Springs North branch. Awards will be given to five first-place winners, and runners-up in each category. In addition, several artists will share the story behind their art.

“You can look at something that is very inspiring to yourself but you don’t necessarily get the perspective of the artist. I’m hoping this will give them the opportunity to give a little insight into what inspired them,” Gamble said.