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North Hagersown High School artist drawn to success

Cooper's willingness to try new things is a prize-winning strategy

Cooper's willingness to try new things is a prize-winning strategy

April 28, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- Last year, Amber Cooper was nervous at the thought of showing her art in public.

But after winning Best in Show and first-place prizes at a contest last month, her attitude toward shows seems to be changing.

"I probably will enter a lot more," Amber said.

Amber, a senior at North Hagerstown High School, won the prizes for a portrait she submitted at "Momentum: Emerging Artists Moving Forward in Visual Arts," a show sponsored by the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

She said she also won awards in another contest for a three-piece series at the Washington County Arts Council called "Seasonal Decomposition."

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"She is really passionate about creating and trying new things. I'm hoping all of her success and attention shows her how great she is," said Brandy Merchant, an art teacher at North Hagerstown High.

Amber said has been creating art since eighth grade.

She remembers being inspired by the paintings of Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso.

While most of her painting has been abstract, she said she recently began doing portraits.

Her subjects come from photographs and pictures in magazines, such as the portrait she did titled "Harley" that won Best in Show and first place at the USM-H show.

The portrait shows the well-worn face of an old biker with a thick, grizzled beard and headband.

His long, thin nose and deep-set eyes dominate the picture.

Amber said she saw the picture in an old photography book and liked it enough to re-create it.

When asked what has drawn her to painting portraits, Amber said, "I like to try new things and I enjoy painting people."

She would also like to try sculpting.

"She's kind of trying out everything. It's kind of what you do when you're still figuring out what medium you're most comfortable in," Merchant said.

Amber said she wants to go to art school after she graduates in June.

She said she plans to apply to Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Ma.

When she finishes college, Amber wants to become an art teacher, saying she would prefer to teach middle or high school students because she can "relate to them."

In the meantime, she plans to participate in more shows.

While she acknowledged that doing well in shows likely will bolster her college applications, she said that's not why she's doing them.

"I just like to do it. They're a lot of fun," Amber said.

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