Seal of approval: Boyd student earns rare mark with art

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, May 11, 2019

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MASTERPIECES – Three Boyd High School art students, Khloe Holden, Nelly Duran and Katie Holmes, earned honors at the Texas Art Education Association’s Visual Arts Scholastic Event. Duran earned a Gold Seal for her drawing of her grandmother’s dog. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

After one of her projects made the Texas Art Education Association’s Visual Arts Scholastic Event (VASE) her freshman year, Boyd’s Nelly Duran decided to enter a colored-pencil picture of her grandmother for the 2018 contest.

Duran was proud of the project of her biggest fan. But the TAEA’s strict rules disqualified the VASE entry because it was not drawn from an original photo.

“I was so proud of that piece,” Duran said. “I was counting on that one to make it to state.”

Nelly Duran


Boyd art teacher Robin Nobles said they tried to fight the decision to no avail.

“VASE has a lot of rules. Your work has to be original,” Nobles said. “If you work from a reference image, you have to be the person that took the picture. It has to be matted properly. There’s a very thick book of rules that you have to follow.

“It was a real upsetting end to last year.”

Duran channeled that disappointment into her project this year. The Boyd junior again looked to her grandmother for inspiration. Duran used her skills with the color pencil to draw a 17×20 picture of her grandmother’s red heeler, Chispa.

The project named “Canine Outlook” will soon be touring the state on exhibit after earning a prestigious and rare Gold Seal in the 2019 VASE contest. Only 150 projects earn the gold seal out of more than 35,000 entries statewide.

“This is my first student to earn a gold seal, and we’ve taken kids to state the last five years,” Nobles said. “This is so rare. It’s just a huge honor to be at state.”

Duran, who admits that she usually shies away from attention, was overwhelmed by the feat.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Duran said.

Nobles originally tried to talk Duran out of the piece.

“I thought it was too easy. I wanted her to do something more challenging or change something up with the photo she took,” Nobles said. “She thought about it and wanted to do it. I was like, ‘Nelly, I think you should think about this.’ After the year she had before, I really wanted her to go to state.”

Even given a weekend to deliberate on the project, Duran stuck with her intuition and the piece.

“I was running out of time, and I needed to decide quickly,” Duran said. “That was the only idea that I had that was solid. Because my piece on my grandma got disqualified last year, I wanted to do another piece related to her. I’ve had the picture for a while. I liked the way it looked and the colors. I started it and it went really smoothly. It turned out well.”

When the project earned the school’s first gold seal, Nobles said Duran quietly said, “I’m glad I didn’t listen to you.”

Nobles admits that the project turned out beautiful.

The Gold Seal topped off a historic year for the art department with four entries making it to the state VASE event.

Duran’s second entry, a coy fish acrylic painting named, “Serenity,” earned a 4 – the second-best rating below a gold seal.

“It’s rare for both of your pieces to advance to state,” Nobles said.

Junior Katie Holmes’ glitter cat portrait, “Kit-Kat,” also earned a 4.

“It’s good to go to state for such a small school,” said Holmes, who made it to state for a second time.

Senior Kloe Holden’s polar grid painting, “Morphed,” a mirrored interactive sculpture received a 3.

“I was surprised. I never do sculptures. It was pretty surprising,” Holden said.

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