By Collin Brooks
Daniel Boone’s Chloe Cox may have just thought that her artistic talent was an outlet, but she is starting to learn that it may be her career path.
The 16-year old sophomore was awarded first place in the 2017 First Congressional Art Contest at Tusculum College on April 24 for a self portrait she created out of color pencil. Her work will now be professionally framed and on exhibit in the tunnel between the United States Capitol and the Cannon House Office Building for the next year, beginning with a reception ceremony in early June.
Cox said that it was an honor for her to win the award and it was something she wasn’t sure she could achieve. She laughed as she mentioned that she was pretty sure the drawing had a bit of Cheetos dust on it, as she was just drawing and snacking, not thinking this particular drawing would be entered.
“It means a lot, I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Cox through a smile. “I was really surprised and it means a lot to me.”
It was also eye opening for Cox, who has now been instilled with the confidence to pursue her hobby as a career.
“Art is really important to me,” Cox said. “I’ve been drawing my entire life and art is pretty much my life, that is what I want to pursue. I don’t really think about anything when I draw, I just do it. It’s just relaxing.”
She said that she hopes to pursue graphic design and then sell her artwork on the side. But the sky is the limit for her as she is starting to stray away from her favorite medium of pencils and explore painting. Cox credits her forced exploration to her art teacher Robb Houser.
“He is familiar with everyone’s strong points, but he also makes people branch out into other forms,” Cox said.
Cox was the fifth winner for Daniel Boone in the last six years, a similar feat to Houser, who was also recognized as the First Congressional District Art Teacher of the Year for the fifth time in six years.
That means that Houser has now won 50 percent of the awards in his 10-year career. That isn’t too bad for a former baseball player, who picked up art during the winter months in the Shenandoah Valley.
His approach to students was formed after a run-in with a high school baseball coach, who didn’t have confidence in Houser’s ability on the diamond. That taught him a valuable lesson in life. Not only did that help propel him to a college baseball career, but it also taught him a teaching creed at an early age.
“Teenagers are sensitive, when an adult thinks that you can’t do something, well, you probably can’t for that period of time,” he said. “(Kids) are going to walk through this classroom and a great majority of them that are taking Art I are convinced that they can’t do (art).
“Well, I say to them, ‘That’s just because you’ve never been taught.’”
That helps to ease the students’ minds a bit and it reiterates his teaching principal that he lives by.
“I found out early that one adult can really make a difference with kids, in getting them to believe that they really can do something,” Houser said. “You can help them see a bit of progress and once they see that progress, then sometimes you can’t hold them back.”
He said that Cox is a good example of that.
“I don’t do any of their drawings for them,” Houser said. “But sometimes I thread the needle a little bit. And that is all that a kid needs.”`