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March 24, 2011

Local Artist's Success Lands Her Spot at Prestigious Chicago Institute

by Hannah Kiddoo

Exceptionally gifted. These are the words Scotland County high school art teacher Dustin Harper uses to describe student Sarah Garrett. "She is above and beyond her age level as far as concept and development," stated Harper.

Garrett, a senior who has been working with Harper for three years and is currently enrolled in five fine arts classes at SCR-I, proves that she is worthy of such high praise with every piece of art she completes. A recent charcoal sketch titled "Holding on to What Remains" has taken three best of shows, including the top prize at conference competition. The piece, which stood out amid numerous entries, is a drawing of a photo she took. While Garrett is skilled in many mediums, her favorite is photography and that is what she will be pursuing as she heads to the School of Arts Institute in Chicago in the fall.

"The way they do things is completely unique," explained Garrett of her educational choice. "It's just all art," she beamed. Harper is equally excited about Garrett studying at the Institute: "I don't think she could have found a better school."

Garrett plans to use fashion as a way to channel her photography talents, but currently, her shots are inspired by "femininity and Alice in Wonderland", a combination she describes as, "weird, I guess". Growing up in Scotland County has also influenced her photos. "There are a lot of abandoned houses that make photography easier to do. Things you would never find in a city." Still, her art is anything but easy. "Art takes problem solving and patience; a lot of patience," she explained.

Garrett is excited to take on new challenges and projects in Chicago while working to accomplish her artistic goals. If her recent winnings are any indication, she is well on her way.

Garrett is just one of the students who have been encouraged by Harper to pursue a passion for the arts. After coming to SCR-I in 2008, Harper has shaped the program to become focused on progression. Her teaching practices ask students to learn a variety of art fundamentals before advancing in technique, a method she feels maximizes student potential.

Harper's students have entered a variety of competitions and have held their own against area schools. Most recently, the art department took home second place overall at the 22nd Annual Hannibal LaGrange University High School Art Competition. Individual winners included Garrett, receiving first in both photography and charcoal /graphite; senior Monica Weidenbenner, second in mixed media; senior Rod Sears, third place for sculpture; junior Mark Johnson, first place in acrylic; and junior Dylan Arnold, third for charcoal/graphite.

Harper noted that the wins were a "pretty successful way to kick off the competition season". Pieces in the Hannibal LaGrange show will be on display until March 30. Student artwork will also be highlighted during the annual high school art show in May.

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