Since 2014, the year Corky Kell was inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, Kell High School art students have been creating custom art pieces for each new inductee. The partnership began under Laura LaQuaglia's leadership, but was taken over in 2017 by current Kell art director, Julie Denison.
"Over the years, the tradition has grown, and students are honored to be selected to create the artwork," said Ms. Denison. "It is rare for high school students to see their work at such a large event with people outside of the art community. It is really fun to see the art world and sport world combine."
On August 1, the first day of school for Cobb students, the Hall of Fame held the Class of 2020 inductees ceremony. The pandemic delayed the event, and the now-graduated students that created the artwork for the six inductees could not be present. Ms. LaQuaglia, now serving as Cobb's Supervisor of Learning Design and Visual Arts, could attend on the students' behalf and present the artwork.
"The induction ceremony events are always an exciting time where student artwork is celebrated," said Ms. LaQuaglia. "Normally, the students would get to meet the esteemed athletes they have researched, but because of the quick notice of the rescheduled event, we were not able to have the former students present at the event."
Six athletes had the honor of being selected for the 2020 class, including Calvin Johnson, Morten Anderson, and Dikembe Mutombo. Fox 5 did a piece on the creation of the artwork in early 2020, well before anyone knew that the ceremony would be delayed for more than two years. You can find that article and short video piece here.
Most of the students aren't familiar with the sports figure they are honoring with their art, so lots of research usually precedes their creative endeavors.
However, Kya Williams, a star point guard who played on Kell's 2020 5A state runner-up team, was beside herself to create the artwork for Atlanta Hawk Dikembe Mutombo. She was excited to combine her two passions—art and basketball—into one fun piece that featured Mutombo's famous rejection finger-wag and "No, No, No."
Although the pandemic created havoc with the regular schedule, the partnership between Kell and the Atlanta Hall of Fame will keep going into the foreseeable future.
"I am super happy to announce that Mr. Winter would like us to continue to make the artwork of the sports figures being honored in the next Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame induction. Carol Kell is usually seated at our table, and it is always fun to talk with her," said Ms. Denison with a smile.
Congratulations and great work, Kell Art! Keep those unique and inspired pieces coming to help honor the athletes and the great sports tradition in Atlanta.