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Shannon Elrod is this year’s Dare to Imagine winner

By Susan Shinn
Salisbury Post
Shannon Elrod is reserved by nature, but ask her about her art, and her eyes light up.
Shannon, 17, a senior at East Rowan High School, is this year’s Dare to Imagine Scholarship winner at Waterworks Visual Arts Center.
Her artwork will be on display beginning Friday.
Pretty heady stuff for a teenager.
“It’s really exciting,” Shannon says. “I feel famous now. I get my own show.”
“She’s got a lot of talent,” says Bruce Wilson, owner of Fine Frame Gallery, who framed Shannon’s four pieces for the show.Shannon has taken art classes for four years at East under Arlene Cooper and Stacy Rollins.
She plans to attend Rowan-Cabarrus Community College this fall. She’ll study there for two years, getting in all her main courses, then transfer to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte ó and its art program. Shannon would like to become an art teacher at her alma mater.
Her teachers have been a great influence on her, but a bigger influence has been her mom.
Shannon is the daughter of Tim and Teresa Elrod of Rockwell. Teresa does acrylic and oil paintings, while her daughter has chosen to concentrate in charcoal.
Shannon’s brother Nathan also drew a lot, she says. He was killed in Iraq on Oct. 21, 2006.
“He was more into trucks and different stuff,” Shannon says, stuff she can’t draw. He even designed his own tattoos.
Shannon has kept her brother close to her through her art.
He’s in two of the four pieces in her show.
Shannon has been drawing nearly all her life.
“Whenever I was little, I always did all kinds of arts and crafts,” she says.
The portrait of her brother, which she completed last year, was the first realistic thing she did, she says.
“I like the shading,” she says of working with charcoal. “It’s really simple ó to me it is. It’s more shadows and shading than it is actual drawing.”
Nathan’s portrait was the big hit at last year’s student art show sponsored by Carolina Artists.
It even created a bit of a controversy at first. It was so detailed that people thought it was a photograph. At the time, photographs weren’t eligible for entry in the show, although they are now.
The portrait shows Nathan in full battle gear, and it’s taken from their mother’s favorite picture of him.
Shannon says it took her three weeks to complete ó most of her pieces take about that long, she says. She works at school and then takes her projects home and works whenever she has any free time.
In drawing Nathan’s portrait, Shannon found she liked working with the features of faces.
In working on a piece of art, she first draws an outline sketch on tracing paper, then her teacher reduces or enlarges it to be transferred to the final piece.
Shannon did three of the four pieces this way; the fourth piece is a flower, which she drew on black paper using white charcoal.She finished a picture of herself and her brother ó at ages 1a and 4, respectively ó just a week ago.
“It was a picture of us together but we were all spread apart,” she says. “I brought us closer together.”
In the dual portrait, Shannon has a wide grin on her face, while Nathan already has that impish look in his eyes.
The fourth piece of art is a portrait of her niece, Morgan, 2, the daughter of her brother and sister-in-law, Chris and Danielle Elrod.
She says she went through stacks of pictures to find a “really cute one.”
“I thought that one just showed a lot of personality,” she says.
Because Shannon likes working with children, she’s decided to teach. She’s discussed it with her art teachers.
“They have fun teaching,” she says. “That would be pretty cool if I could do that. I’m just really close to both of them. I like them both.”
And she’d love to work with both of them someday.
“I want to be an art teacher at East Rowan High School,” she says. “They do need another art teacher there.”
Shannon’s success in the student art show has given her confidence in her work, although she admits that she’s her own harshest critic.
“I’m a perfectionist, big-time,” she says. “I’ll keep on with on it til I get it right.”
But she’s supportive of her classmates.
“I tell them, ‘It’s your opinion, it’s your artwork. If you see something you don’t like, fix it.’ ”
That philosophy should serve her well as an art teacher.
The Dare to Imagine Scholarship, in the amount of $1,000 is given annually by Ed and Susan Norvell.
“I’ve attended several different award ceremonies at high schools,” Ed says, “and I’ve noticed there were no awards for artistic achievement.”
Because their daughter was interested in art, the Norvells decided to start this scholarship.
“Each year, it’s been wonderful,” Ed says. “Everyone who’s won it has just been a delight.”
Coincidentally, Ed and Shannon met for the first time on Tuesday at the frame shop. He bought a copy of Nathan’s portrait on the spot.
Shannon has also received a $500 scholarship from Carolina Artists.
Besides her art, Shannon participates in JROTC at East. She’s also an active member of First Baptist Church in Rockwell.
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Shannon still has a few copies of her brother’s portrait for sale. If you’d like a copy, you may call the Elrods at 704-279-6309.

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