When Hough High senior Daria Shishkina was 9, she wanted to submit an illustration of a “cute, little hedgehog” she’d drawn into a competition. Her teacher refused.
In fact, Shishkina’s teacher accused her of cheating. She said the drawing was too good to have been done by a 9-year-old.
That experience prompted Shishkina to leave the art program she was in and take up guitar. But, her love of art persisted. She took up her own arts education, learning from books she found at the library or bought herself.
Now, her skills are on full display.
Earlier this year, Shishkina turned the tables on the past. Her portfolio of three-dimensional work — which combines painting, clay work and fashion — won an “Outstanding Winner” award in a Scholastic Gold Key competition judged by Charlotte Is Creative, the parent of The Biscuit.
Moving to the United States
Shishkina moved to Charlotte five years ago. After visiting the Queen City, the Shiskinas loved the climate (“It’s a lot warmer than Russia”) and the atmosphere and the freshness she found of Charlotte.
“The city is relatively new compared to other cities in the US,” she said.
When Shishkina enrolled at Hough High, she found a much friendlier environment to explore her passion for art.
After taking two classes that engaged her love for illustrating with colored pencils and paints, she was faced with a choice: Repeat classes or take on the challenge of three-dimensional art, a skill she hadn’t used in years.
Shishkina was uncertain, but her teacher, Katherine Allen, challenged her to take the class and push herself.
“I thought I wouldn’t do well. [Allen] told me that she thought I have great skills. She felt I would do well and helped me to believe in myself.”
To create her award-winning portfolio, Shishkina drew from her experiences fishing with her father in the summer.
She was attracted to the shape of the fish they caught and the way their scales changed color with the light. That also got her thinking about the global impact of overfishing and the potential of driving fish populations to extinction.
With that as her inspiration, Shishkina created 3-D fish out of clay, painted them and then integrated them into headbands and other wearable art. And, she was pleased with the result.
The Dance of Art & Math
As she enters college, Shishkina intends to pursue a career in architecture. It’s a goal she’s had since before her family moved to the United States.
“I started thinking about my career in 6th grade,” she said. “I love math and art. I wanted to combine a profession that combined those two.”
“It is interesting to combine energy-efficient features with sustainable and universal design. Create something that can unify all those things” said Shishkina.
She’s hoping to attend the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the School of Art + Architecture this fall to take on new challenges for herself and others. [UPDATE: At the time of this publication, Daria Shiskina has been accepted into this program.]
“I really like the process of design itself, to come up with creative solutions to problems.”
Shishkina’s passion inspires all of us at Charlotte Is Creative. That’s why we chose her portfolio, why we wish her well in the next stage of her journey … and why she’s our new best friend.
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