By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Shades of gray with a few streaks of color earned Larkin Hudson a trip to New York City.
A rising senior at Tupelo High School, Hudson, 17, found a pack of gray-scale markers at an art supply store and decided to play around with them.
“You can get different shadings and stuff. That’s the only time I’d ever used them, I think,” he said. “I worked on it for a long time, a couple of months, but I didn’t work on it every day.”
It was a tedious process, as Hudson worked line-by-line to render a self portrait that he eventually named “Rasta Dreams.”
“You definitely get lost in it when you’re working on a piece for so long,” he said. “It’s work, for sure, but it’s rewarding. It’s really meditative. You think you’ve been working for five minutes and you look up and it’s been five hours.”
Sometimes, he creates with a musical soundtrack in the background, “but silence is good, too,” Hudson said.
His finished piece was a regional winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and then it won Hudson a nationwide American Visions Award.
On May 31, he and his family had seats in Carnegie Hall with other winners and their families. He officially joined the company of past winners Truman Capote (1932), Richard Avedon (1941), Andy Warhol (ca. 1945), Sylvia Plath (1947) and Robert Redford (1954).
It was the 90th anniversary of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, which were founded to give young artists and writers the type of recognition often reserved for athletes.
“The Empire State Building was lit gold in honor of the Scholastic Awards,” Hudson said. “We went by at night. It’s usually red, white and blue, but it was gold. That was cool.”
“Rasta Dreams” was on display at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, so art lovers could get up-close views of his achievement.
“It was exciting to see it there with all the other art,” he said.
He also was impressed with the public art and graffiti he saw around the Big Apple.
“It’s definitely overwhelming in the city. I loved it, but it was a little too concrete,” said Hudson, adding that he gets most of his ideas for art projects when he’s outside enjoying nature.
Hudson’s road to New York and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards began years ago, when he developed a child’s affinity for drawing that grew into a full-blown talent with encouragement from his parents and teachers.
There’s little doubt art will be part of his life as he moves forward, though the details are still in flux. He has a variety of colleges and careers to consider.
“Figuring out who I am as an artist, I’m still working it out, which is normal for a high school student,” Hudson said. “I’m just figuring out my niche in the art world.”