2 area art students get national awards

January 13, 1995|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

"I always have a sketchbook with me," says Jennifer Harris. "It's pretty much a part of my life wherever I am."

That kind of dedication has paid off for the Towson High School senior, who recently won the National Art Education Association's Secondary School Art Achievement Award. That meant she was the best among hundreds of the nation's top high school artists. The same week, she received early acceptance to Yale University.

"Everything's coming together," Jennifer said. "It gives me a good feeling about the future. It makes me feel that everything I've been doing has been paying off -- to be nationally recognized."

Though it's not her first recognition, this award is special because it was based not only on artistic talent, but also on academic achievement and involvement in extracurricular interests, she said.

She was one of two local area art students to win top prizes from the art education association in Reston, Va.

LaVerne Miers-Bond of Mount Airy, a graduate student at Maryland Institute, College of Art, won the Higher Education Student Achievement Award for her drawings and art books.

The awards are open only to members of art honor societies. In addition to submitting slides of their work, entrants also had to be recommended by their teachers.

The winners met for the first time yesterday at Towson High, where Ms. Miers-Bond was giving an art book presentation to several classes. Both young women said they started drawing early.

"My kindergarten teacher used to parade me next door [to the first-graders]," Ms. Miers-Bond recalled, "and I hated it. I stopped putting my name on my papers." But she didn't stop drawing.

Neither did Jennifer, who said her interest flourished in middle school. She focused on painting a couple of years ago when she took a summer course, and now her tiny studio, off an art classroom on the ground floor of Towson High, is jammed with colorful self-portraits, paintings of other people and sketches in progress.

She intends to continue studying art in college, but would also like to major in math, another love. Her career plans are uncertain. "I'm definitely going to continue with art the rest of my life. Sometimes, I think I'd like to teach at the college level," she said.

Now finishing work for her master of arts in teaching, Ms. Miers-Bond has wanted to teach for a long time. "I like to say I'm on the 15-year plan," she said, explaining that she started college in 1979, went three years, stopped for a while, returned to get her bachelor's degree at the Maryland Institute and then continued on for the masters.

"I would not call myself a painter. I'm more of a drawer. Drawing is kind of my release," said Ms. Miers-Bond. In the last year, she has created small art books that combine words, type, photos and drawings around a theme.

In a few weeks, she will begin student-teaching at Grange Elementary in eastern Baltimore County. She hopes her prestigious award will give her an advantage over others applying for teaching jobs next fall.

"I started out wanting to be a teacher. As artists, it's our job to promote art," she said. "It's our responsibility."

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