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10th May 2005, 09:04 PM
Blacksburg student's work part of exhibit

Shelley Herrington's painting was a winner of the Virginia PTA's 2004 Reflections program.

New River Current

The painting, finished more than a year ago, is a snapshot of a her life. Shelley Herrington was a sixth-grader then who had just gotten a new puppy and was studying M.C. Escher in art class.

The image of her dog, Abbey, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and an Escher-like checkerboard ground are the most eye-catching parts of the painting. Abbey, paintbrush in her mouth, is leaping from another painting within the painting. Yellow, blue and green drops from the paintbrush drip onto a palette that lays on the unusual floor. On the horizon is a dark sunset.

Shelley's work garnered her an Award of Excellence in the visual arts category and middle/junior division of the Virginia PTA's 2004 annual Reflections recognition program. After a year on display at Virginia PTA conferences and meetings across the state, her work is back at home in Blacksburg. It's also part of a new exhibit on display through July at the Blacksburg Community Center.

The theme of the 2004 Reflections program was "I am really happy when . . ." Shelley completed the statement in words on her painting. White letters contrast a blue-black background sky: "I'm really happy when I'm free . . . like a puppy chasing butterflies, like an artist creating a picture."

She's at her most free when she paints, Shelley said. She doesn't just start by putting brush to canvas, though. She plots out every detail in her mind first.

"I like to do something different, something that no one else would do," Shelley said.

Now a seventh-grader at Blacksburg Middle, she's in her second year of art class at the school. She's in her sixth year of taking art classes from local professional artist Sue Kurtz, and worked on her Reflections submission for several hours in Kurtz's class.

Shelley is one of 10 middle school students Kurtz teaches weekly. The exhibit at the community center features the work of 25 of Kurtz's art students of all ages.

"She's very thoughtful," Kurtz said. "Shelley's not afraid to tackle things that take a long time."

Shelley has entered the contest, which begins at the school level, since she began taking art classes in second grade. That first year, her painting of instrument-playing animals won first place in her division and category at the district competition. Her third grade and fourth grade submissions, paintings of flying fruit and a hand holding keys to discovery, also received first place awards at district.

Her fifth grade submission garnered first place at her school. In addition to her state win last year, she also won first place at the district competition in the photography category. She captured an 8-year-old soccer goalie punting the ball. She took a break from entering the contest this year, but will likely enter again next year -- both a painting and a photograph.

The 2005 Reflections theme was "A Different Kind of Hero." Reflections 2005 winners were recognized in literature, musical composition, photography and visual arts categories. Awards were given for Outstanding Interpretation, Award of Excellence and Award of Merit in four divisions -- primary, intermediate, middle/junior and senior.

NRV students who won an Award of Merit in photography were Kenna Knowles of Falling Branch Elementary, primary division; Fiona Harris of Floyd Elementary, intermediate division; and Lindsay Loar of Christiansburg Middle, middle/junior division.

Awards of Merit in visual arts were given to Christina Von Claparede-Crola, Indian Valley Elementary, intermediate division; and Jessica Portal, Blacksburg High, senior division.

From http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv%5C23335.html