Student artwork, girl with blue hair and morphed face

Student Surrealist Art Exhibit

The Dalí Museum’s Student Surrealist Art Exhibit: “The Shape of Dreams”

Initiated in 1985, this annual juried art exhibition presents work by Florida middle and high school students who are invited to explore ideas and visions similar to those explored by Salvador Dalí and the surrealists. This year, the theme is “The Shape of Dreams,” a theme that encourages students to explore the process and meaning of their dreams through time, myth and literature.

Dreaming is a state of awareness common to all human beings. The dream engages thought, senses, memory, and emotion. It is an irony of the dreams are so visual: we experience the dream as things seen, yet only with our eyes closed. Because of the intensity of the dream state, its calls into question the very nature of reality — is this reality or a dream? The dream presents poignant images mixed with the most banal traces of visual experience, leaving us searching for meaning. Thus, the dream invites abundant, though often unresolved, insights into the life of the dreamer, and when the dream is visualized, into the life of the artist.

Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s ideas about interpreting dreams, Salvador Dalí became a painter of dreams. Along with his surrealist colleagues, he set out to explore the world of dreams, sharing the discoveries of his nocturnal adventures. Dalí described his paintings as “hand painted dream photographs,” with his irrational dream-visions are captured and presented with the precision of a photograph. Dalí explored a variety of techniques to achieve this effect, including scale distortion, transformation, unnatural atmospheric colors, anxiety-inducing horizon lines, and dream-symbol narratives.

“The Shape of Dreams” invites students to reflect on their dreams and create their own visual interpretation and techniques. The work size is strictly limited to 8×10 because of the frame size, but all 2D media types are welcomed and encouraged as submissions.

Check out The Dalí’s video resources for the Student Surrealist Art Exhibit:

“Surrealism: The Big Ideas”
View closed caption version
“How to Make Surrealist Art”
View closed caption version
“Why Teach Surrealist Art”

Please read the guidelines carefully; some information has changed.

2024 Pinellas Guidelines
Digital submissions due to Pinellas Art Office: November 10, 2023

2024 Hillsborough Guidelines
Digital submissions due to Hillsborough Art Office: February 9, 2024

2024 Statewide Guidelines 
Digital submissions due to EntryThingy: TBD

Note: Students may not submit their own artwork. Art teachers should submit artwork on their students’ behalf. If a student is not enrolled in an art class during the current semester, any art teacher at the same school may submit on the student’s behalf.

view past student surrealist art exhibits online:


2023 Statewide Exhibition Online
2023 Pinellas County Exhibition Online
2023 Hillsborough County Exhibition Online


2022 Statewide Exhibition Online
2022 Pinellas County Exhibition Online
2022 Hillsborough County Exhibition Online


2021 Statewide Exhibition Online
2021 Pinellas County Exhibition Online
2021 Hillsborough County Exhibition Online


2020 Statewide Exhibition Online
2020 Hillsborough County Exhibition Online

view photos of past student surrealist art exhibits:

2019 Statewide Exhibition Photos
2018 Statewide Exhibition Photos
2017 Statewide Exhibition Photos
2016 Statewide Exhibition Photos
2015 Statewide Exhibition Photos
2014 Statewide Exhibition Photos
2013 Statewide Exhibition Photos
2012 Statewide Exhibition Photos

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