History of the Western Art Academy

The Western Art Academy  officially began with a 1984 memorandum:

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ in conjunction with their ‘Western Art Contest,’ is sponsoring eight $1,000.00 Cowboy Artists of America Scholarships to Schreiner College to attend a unique six-week summer art workshop in drawing…The course will be for college credit…Schreiner has brought together a group of professional artists, which includes at least one member of the Cowboy Artists of America, to team teach the course… In the summer of 1984, eight students from Houston, Aldine, and Cy-Fair school districts attended the first western art academy in Kerrville, Texas…. Many consider Kerrville and the Texas Hill Country the “art colony” of the state because many professional artists live and work throughout the area, and the Cowboy Artists of America Museum is located here.

The scholarship program resulted from chance meetings between Griffiths Carnes, Cowboy Artists of America Museum Director; Sandy Poole, School Art Committee Chairman, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™; and Ethel Carruth, School Art Scholarship Sub-Committee Chairman, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™(HLSR). Their goal was to transform the School Art Committee’s rodeo poster contest into a higher educational program.

Please contact the Western Art Academy Scholarship Program at [email protected] for more information and the cost of the academy session.

From 1984 until 2009, the Western Art Academy was administered by the Cowboy Artists of America Museum, now the Museum of Western Art. As summer sessions continued, the academy changed from a six-week college drawing class to a non-college-credit, three-week art workshop and was not always housed on the Schreiner University campus. For a brief period, it was housed at various Hill Country area summer camp ranches with classes held at the museum.

The Western Art Academy continued to grow and eventually returned to the university. Becoming a much more intensive course than what began as simply one summer drawing class, it expanded from the original eight seniors to include freshmen, sophomores, and juniors with the session size increasing to 48 students by 2010.

From 1996 until 2014, the San Antonio Livestock Exposition™ supported the academy sending five students in the early years and eventually increasing that number to 14 of their art competition winners. In 2014 the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo™ began supporting their winning art students with two scholarship positions to the academy.

In 2009, the option of two college credits was offered to the students through Montana State University-Northern by way of an additional partnership with the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation. This regained interest in moving back to a college level course gave the program administration to Schreiner University and extended the academy to four weeks. From 2012-2015 WAA students had an option to purchase three credit hours for a modest fee. In 2016, Schreiner University and the HLSR made the decision to award all WAA students three hours of college credit without any additional fees.  Art: 1340 Introduction to the Visual Arts.

In 2018, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo began to allow former WAA students to return for a second year. These students earn an additional credit course ART: 1302 Principles of Drawing.

Thus the academy has returned  to the original goal of the founders.