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Daniel Hand High School student Dvora Redlich will be honored at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall after receiving the Gold Key award for her portrait of a friend. (Photo by Margaret McNellis/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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While the old joke—How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Answer: Practice—is a message for aspiring musicians everywhere, Dvora Redlich, a junior at Daniel Hand High School, has made it there, though by painting, not performing, and in a medium that’s relatively new to her.
Dvora won the Gold Key for Best in Show at the Scholastic Regional Art Show; now her nationally recognized portrait will be celebrated at Carnegie Hall.
“I’m…surprised because I made the painting for our final project for paint studio,” Dvora says. “I didn’t even know I was going to get into the state level.”
Dvora’s award-winning painting is a portrait of her friend Ethan.
“It was my second acrylic portrait,” she says. “I’d done one before, not for class [but] because I was bored. I just wanted to make it look as close to him as possible.”
Dvora worked on her painting in school and at home. She brought it with her when her family traveled for Thanksgiving, and thanks to copious amounts of newspaper from a hotel concierge, she was able to set up a studio in her family’s hotel room.
Dvora told Ethan, “If it looks bad, I’m not giving it to you and you’re never seeing it.”
But the portrait didn’t look bad, as evidenced by its award-winning status.
“It was a learning process…the actual painting,” Dvora says. “The acrylic paint dries really, really fast. You can’t really blend it, so I kind of changed how I was doing it throughout so it took me awhile to do.”
Part of that learning process was transitioning from watercolors to acrylic.
“At first, when I started with acrylic, I hated it a lot,” Dvora says. “I had trouble working with it at first, but I like it now.”
Dvora offered advice to anyone who wants to start working with acrylics: Don’t leave your palette out and uncovered and don’t mix big piles of paint. Layers are key, and tutorial videos can help.
“I like portraits a lot,” she says. “I really like drawing faces and I’m working on that. It’s…satisfying to do a portrait.”
The celebration at Carnegie Hall takes place in early June. There will be a dance the night before for all the award winners.
Prior to the celebration, there’s a dress rehearsal, and then afterward, Dvora says there’s an event for parents and an exhibit for the winning works, in both the fine arts and writing disciplines.
It was only recently that Dvora started learning the proportions of the head. She took Draw and Design I with Daniel Hand High School art teacher and artist Robert DelRusso.
“I really enjoyed it,” Dvora says. “I’m in his painting class, too.”
DelRusso says, “I think it’s starting to sink in to her how big of a deal this is.”
Dvora is his second student whose work has won the Gold Key award.
“Very famous people have won this in high school,” DelRusso says. “It’s a pretty big deal. It’s so great that [students] have that support [and] recognition. She was the state champion in the painting category.”
According to DelRusso, Dvora’s portrait of Ethan will travel in a national show now that it has won the Gold Key. He also says the level of work at the Scholastic’s Art & Writing Awards Connecticut Chapter Show at the Hartford College of Art, where Dvora’s portrait won the award, is “amazing.”
DelRusso found a self-portrait Dvora had done on the first day of his introductory class.
“It’s amazing to see the development from that time to now,” he says.
In addition to winning awards, Dvora uses her artistic talent and skill outside of the classroom. She’s on the stage crew at the high school, and spent time earlier this year painting sets and murals for the high school production of Newsies.
She adds that she enjoyed working with the middle schoolers, since the cast was combined this year for that production.
Dvora is also a potter, and according to DelRusso, she and other students in the Clay Club raised $4,000 for the Community Dining Room in Branford with an Empty Bowl event.
Even though she’s already been recognized with the Gold Key award, Dvora plans to continue studying and learning more about art.
This summer, she’s attending a six-week program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The program offers a curriculum at the post-secondary level to more than 500 high school students from around the world.
After high school, Dvora wants to continue honing her artistic skills.
She’s hoping to take AP Art in her senior year at Hand. This two-trimester course would allow her to build a portfolio she could use in her college application process.
“I’m pretty sure I want to look into art schools,” Dvora says, “or schools with a strong art program.”
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