Making their marks early

Washington County juniors and seniors consider artistic careers with a museum show on their resumés

Washington County juniors and seniors consider artistic careers with a museum show on their resumés

May 20, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

The opening of the annual Public School Art exhibit at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts always is the year's best attended opening, drawing as many as 2,000 visitors, says Linda J. Dodson, educational coordinator at the fine arts museum.

No one can pinpoint exactly when the exhibit began as an annual tradition, but Museum Director Jean Woods estimates the show has been held since the 1940s.

Art - in nearly every imaginable medium and mood - by Washington County elementary, middle and high school students, will be displayed through Sunday, June 1. The works by high school students show the refinement of young artists who are considering mining their creativity for a living.


On the museum's Web site at, you'll see Adam Wray's realistic rendering of a 2003 Cadillac DeVille. It's not a photograph, but it looks like one.

Adam, 17, created an incredibly detailed image of the luxury vehicle. The senior played football at South Hagerstown High School and plans to play at Frostburg State University, where he'll begin studies in graphic design this fall.

Adam, who drew Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when he was younger, says he ultimately wants to design cars. His older brother, Timothy Johnston, a cartoonist and comic book artist, has influenced his interest in art.

Brittany Shoaf, 18, a North Hagerstown High School senior, says her father, who teaches art at Western Heights Middle School, has had a big influence on her artwork.

Brittany has been making art since she was little. She likes drawing. "I like everything."

She has four works in the exhibit, including a spin on Grant Wood's "American Gothic." Instead of the grim-faced couple in the famous 1930 painting, Brittany's subjects are smiling broadly, holding a cell phone with a text message: "Welcome to America."

Although she takes dancing lessons, is a member of the school's show choir and works on sets for North High's musicals, Brittany says art is pretty much all she does. "It's been the focus of my life."

And it will continue to be. Brittany plans to begin studies in graphic design at Villa Julie College in Baltimore in the fall.

Heather White, 17, a South Hagerstown High School junior and the softball team's second baseman, has time to plan for her future. College is definitely in the picture, and majoring in art is a possibility.

Art talent runs in Heather's family. Her mother and grandmother are artistic. Her grandmother has sold oil paintings.

Heather's untitled piece - clay tiles on wood, glazed then fired in a kiln at the ceramics and sculpture studio at Washington County Technical High - wears a red ribbon for "Longmeadow Rotary Award of Excellence."

"Somebody liked it," she laughs.

Heather also has some black-and-white photographs on display - her horses and a snowy lane among them.

Ruben, Ian, Amelia and Grant, Aaron Pimentil's 2 1/2-year-old quadruplet siblings, are captured in his pencil drawing in the exhibit. Aaron, 17, used No. 2H to 7B graphite pencils to achieve the light and dark tones in the work.

The Smithsburg High School wrestler will graduate in June. He plans to attend Hagerstown Community College for a year, then transfer to the Art Institute of Houston. He also plans to study graphic design, looking toward a career in advertising and logo design.

He spent about 100 hours to create - via computer - the images of a red car, also on display. Aaron also worked long on the clay mountain scene in the exhibit. There are snowboarders, a tiny deer with tiny tracks on the slope and evergreen trees that took an hour each to make.

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