The boy in the picture looks years older than 17, and the empathy of the artist's pencil seems to come from a woman much older than the high school junior who drew him.
A shadow covers half his face. The Irish hat, the pin stripe suit -- it all leads to a thousand narratives. The viewer must take a second and a third look.
As the judges of the 2004 Scholastic Art Awards studied Emily Dobbs' drawing, they saw something special in it and pulled it away from the other 1,500 entries submitted by high school students across the state.
After Christmas, Dobbs and fellow Steamboat Springs High School student Danielle Treadway were awarded the highest honor the state has to give to a high school art student.
Every year, high school art teachers select the best pieces created in their classrooms and send them to be judged by the Colorado Scholastic Art Awards. Of the 1,500 pieces entered, 500 were chosen for an exhibition at the Museum of Outdoor Arts and the Englewood Civic Center. Of the 500 pieces on exhibit, the top 100 were awarded Gold Key honors. Dobbs and Treadway received the Gold Key. Their art will go to New York City to be judged for the national awards. Winners of the national awards will go on to an exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Dobbs made the drawing of her boyfriend, Nathan Hodge, from a photograph she took of him at her kitchen table with a disposable camera.
"I never thought I was that good (at art)," Dobbs said.
High school art teacher Rich Galusha laughed. "She's very modest," he said.
Galusha chose Dobbs' piece for the exhibition because of her mature use of light. "That's what you look for in a subject. You look for how the light is reflecting off of it."
Galusha chose Treadway's piece simply for the quality.
"It's very striking and technically excellent," Galusha said.
Treadway's entry is a drawing of herself as a child. The picture was taken at a day-care center. Treadway is wrapped in a white robe and looking straight at the camera -- the same piercing stare she has today.
"It was kind of fun to draw myself," she said. "But I didn't want to make it look bad because it was of myself, so I thought about everything I did."
Dobbs' and Treadway's art will be on display through Feb. 6 at the Museum of Outdoor Arts on the second floor of the Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway. An opening reception will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Jan. 24.