Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Mail Delivery

Mail Delivery
We’ve got you covered! Get the best in local news, sports, community events, with focus on what’s coming up for the weekend. Weekly packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, weather, and more.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
Have our latest news, sports and obituaries emailed directly to you Monday through Friday so you can keep up with what's happening in Morris and Grundy County.

‘He’s an artistic risk-taker’

Coal City student’s artwork selected for statewide show

JJ McLuckie, a senior at Coal City High School, works on a colored pencil drawing of members of the Canadian band Marianas Trench during class. McLuckie is a fan of the band and got them to autograph his drawing at one of their shows.
JJ McLuckie, a senior at Coal City High School, works on a colored pencil drawing of members of the Canadian band Marianas Trench during class. McLuckie is a fan of the band and got them to autograph his drawing at one of their shows.

COAL CITY — A Coal City High School student’s artwork will be on display in a competitive statewide show starting in November.

This year marks the third year that senior J.J. McLuckie’s art will be shown in the Illinois Art Education Association’s, or IAEA, annual student show. This year, he and his art teacher Deb Scudder will attend the banquet for the chosen artists at the Hilton in Lisle, Ill., on Nov. 3.

Scudder said it’s uncommon to have a student’s art selected for multiple years, and that it’s also competitive to even be selected once. In the 30 years she’s taught at the high school, only one other student was selected. McLuckie is also eligible to enter pieces into the 2013 show.

Scudder said each student submits two pieces to the show. According to the IAEA’s website, each year, about 500 pieces of artwork are submitted from K-12 students across Illinois, and from that, only 40 pieces are selected. The show isn’t just stationary — pieces will be on display in the area in coming months, too.

“The show will travel to Coal City in the month of December so that people in the area can see what was submitted at the state level,” she said.

When it comes to McLuckie’s work, Scudder said he takes an innovative, experimental approach to expressing his artistic talents, whether it is in colored pencil drawings, acrylic painting, making sculptures or using theatrical makeup. 

“Any art medium that’s put in front of him, he’s able to manipulate or use it to enhance his artwork,” she said. “He’s an artistic risk-taker — he’s not afraid to experiment.”

Scudder said McLuckie is unique in his ability to be able to excel at a number of different art forms and in academic studies outside of art, in subjects like math and science.

McLuckie said his interest in art developed in middle school, and grew.

“It started as a coping mechanism ... and then as I started doing it more and more often, I realized I could gain confidence from it,” he said.

McLuckie said his work is driven by the moment as he’s creating.

“Whatever comes to my mind in terms of emotion or music,” he said. “I just make a visual representation of that.”

He said he’s open to whatever medium is in front of him, or whatever materials are at hand.

“Anything I pick up, I’ll just try it and see what I like,” he said.

He had pieces from prior shows in the art room Thursday morning, and noted a portrait of singer Marilyn Manson, which is done on brown wrapping paper that was included when he purchased the frame the piece is in. Other pieces were on materials ranging from from canvas to cardboard.

When he heard about being selected for the IAEA show, he said he was happy to hear his work was selected again.

“I’m honored to have three years in a row,” he said.

The show isn’t the only one he’s participated in. He’s also taken part in art shows at the Grundy County Corn Festival, Joliet Junior College, the University of St. Francis and the Coal City Unit District #1 Fine Arts Festival.

McLuckie has his sights set on attending schools like Columbia College and the Art Institute of Chicago, and studying graphic design, and eventually apply that to a career in the music industry or in advertising.

Music is another of McLuckie’s passions. He’s known around school for the trail of music that accompanies him, playing from his cell phone. He was playing music from bands Black Veil Brides and Marianas Trench.

“People have come to know when I’m in the hall, because there’s music,” he said.

Scudder said she has no doubt that he will continue on to a solid arts program. She said students like McLuckie are rare.

“I would say he’s the most talented and creative student I’ve had in 30 years,” she said.

Loading more