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Junior wins national YoungArts award; travels to L.A.

Junior Henry Farthing gets to participate in workshops, tours
Farthing+poses+with+his+work.+
Arabella Gipp
Farthing poses with his work.

YoungArts is a highly esteemed program that’s very rare to win. However, junior art student Henry Farthing’s talent speaks for itself. Farthing won the photography category and got to fly out to Los Angeles to participate in a variety of workshops, tours, and lectures, all for free.

What’s even more rare is a student from a public school winning. This year, Farthing, out of the few hundred winners, was the only one from a public school. All the other winners attended private high schools focused primarily on art. 

“That says a lot about the level that they’re looking for,” photography teacher Angelia Perkins said. “They’re really looking for those developing conceptually and idea-wise, creating a body of work that isn’t just projects, but actually themselves exploring something individually larger than life events.”

From a very young age, Farthing has been surrounded by the arts.

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“I got into it by being in Lawrence. I went to preschool at the Arts Center so I was always surrounded by art growing up,” Farthing said. “I started with drawing and I found photography through Perkins.”

Since then, Farthing has participated in a variety of art classes at LHS, such as drawing, painting, photography, and portfolio, being determined and dedicated to their artistic development.

“It’s my way of speaking,” Farthing said. “When words fail I use imagery and it seems to work better.”

When asked what Farthing is like as a student, their photography teacher immediately said driven.

“Henry is really driven and self motivated in what they are creating,” Perkins said. “And overall sets high standards for themself in what they’re doing, the kind of student that everybody really wants to have.”

Along with being extremely driven, Farthing was encouraged by their teachers to enter the YoungArts competition. Many successful artists such as Steven Spielburg, Maya Angelou, and more have been YoungArts winners.

“They were encouraged by both Ms. Perkins and I to enter YoungArts,” portfolio art teacher Todd Poteet said. “It’s a highly coveted award. It’s not a typical ‘oh I won this award at this contest’. YoungArts has a long standing history with famous artists in our history being recipients of this award.”

Initially when the winners were finally released, Farthing didn’t receive any sort of email or notification of their win.

“I was just at lunch and Perkins emailed me because she found the list. But they didn’t even email me or anything, we just found out on this separate list,” Farthing said. “I was like, ‘is this real? Is this actually true?’ and then I got the email that I was going to LA.”

Once Farthing got to Los Angeles, they were exposed to many different people, works, and places within all parts of the art world.

“They took a couple winners from each discipline and they put us together to do some professional development,” Farthing said. “We saw a lot of artist talks and they gave us a tour of their LA spots and facilities. It was a little bit of joint art making and a little bit of hearing from alumni and other parents.”

Surrounded by so many fellow successful and talented artists may have been a bit intimidating, but the art program at LHS prepared Farthing for their trip to LA.

“It was crazy, it was a little scary. I feel like I’m surrounded by a community of amazing artists here, so I was prepared,” Farthing said. “I felt pretty confident in my work. I’ve been working so hard here and we have such a good program.”

These experiences aren’t all YoungArts has to offer. The organization continues to support their winners throughout their artistic careers and is connected with the artists for the rest of their life.

“They were able to go through different programs and workshops with these various artists and other winners and that will continue basically the rest of their life,” Poteet said. “They’ll be able to connect to that network. There’s a very-very-very-very small group of people who are selected for this honor, and they got it as a junior in high school, so this will carry them forward into college and their career.”

Farthing’s hard work and self-motivation will undoubtedly take them far no matter where they decide to go or what they decide to do.

“I think Henry is gonna go a long way, it’s just trying to decide exactly where they want to go to school,” Perkins said. “One of the things I’m not worried about at all is I think they’re going to find their way into doing something that makes them happy but also challenges them.”

Overall, Farthing aspires to continue art, most likely concentrating in photography.

“I’m hoping to pursue art in college and hopefully have a career in it,” Farthing said. “I’m planning to go to art school, but I’d like to be doing this for the rest of my life.”

This story was originally published on The Budget on April 30, 2024.