Biography of an artist: Student with hidden talent captures world religions in charcoal


This is the third article in the “Biography” series; to read the previous story, click here.

When senior Mary Frank submitted one of her artworks for the Superintendent’s Choice award, winning was not an outcome she saw coming.

“I was surprised [that I won] because I have been only drawing for a year and a half,” Frank said.

The award-winning piece, titled “Confucianism,” also won first place in both the Judges’ Choice Awards and the Students’ Choice Awards at the Northwest Guilford High School Annual Art Show, which took place on April 21.

What makes Frank’s achievements remarkable is that she has only been taking high school art classes for just over a year.

Most art students at Northwest take a lower level class, such as Art I or Art II, during their freshman or sophomore year. From then on, students typically progress through increasingly challenging courses, with senior art students taking Honors Art IV or AP Art. However, Frank took Art I as a junior, and then was recommended to take AP Art as a senior.

“I took art in middle school but I chose not to pursue it in high school because all of my classes were taken up by other things,” Frank said. “Then, I did a project in 10th grade for Spanish class where we had to paint a picture and my teacher told me I should take art class, and I realized I should take it. I took art  in 11th grade and now I’m taking it this year as well.”

Though Frank didn’t start taking art until later in high school, her interest in art has its roots in her childhood.

“When I was a kid, my dad  used to do little drawings with me,” Frank said. “He would decorate plates in our free time and we would paint pictures of each other. Then, in elementary school, I took art class. It was my favorite extracurricular activity.”

Overall, Frank’s artwork focuses on humanity and nature. She has worked in acrylic and oil paint, but is well-known for her work in charcoal.

“I really like drawing faces, people I know, animals, and the sky,” Frank said. “Some of the things that inspire me are the relationships I have with people.”


Frank’s piece, “Confucianism,” is part of a series which depicts the 12 world religions, a topic that is important to Frank.

“I really like drawing depictions of religion because they provide meaning to my life,” Frank said. “They reveal good and evil in my life. They help me understand that reflection is key to growth and also they evoke feelings of spirituality in people.”

As an artist, Frank is determined to create works that hold more than just aesthetic value.

“I like to go beyond just the visual aspect of art,” Frank said. “I like to send a message.”