For Rebecca Schuman, 14, artwork has always been a personal outlet. A way to relax, a way to escape. However, one of her more recent works stands to impact (and be viewed by) countless others.
In late June, the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore County announced the winners of its annual anti-drug contest, in which county middle school students submit posters with an anti-drug theme. The office received more than 3,200 entries, and Rebecca, who graduated from Franklin Middle School last spring, was named one of the 13 winners.
The selected posters will comprise the office’s 2014 anti-drug poster calendar, a project that is paid for with the money taken from drug dealers and forfeited to law enforcement.
Rebecca’s poster, which will be featured on the October page, contains the text “Drugs Trap You” in bold red letters and consists of a man with bloodshot eyes, a pained expression and hands over his face, inside of a black box. A syringe pierces through the picture from top to bottom.
Rebecca, who used only regular and colored pencils to complete the work, said she endeavored to convey two messages.
“I wanted to show how drugs can isolate you and trap you and back you into this corner,” said Rebecca, who will attend the Carver Center for Arts & Technology this fall. “I also wanted to show, with the anguish in his face, the pain of drugs and how they take you away from everything you love and put you in this box. … He almost looks indifferent. He has no feelings. The pain has kind of overtaken him.”
State’s Attorney for Baltimore County Scott D. Shellenberger, who helps head up the selection process, said that project is effective because it engenders peer-to-peer dialogue between students about drug and alcohol abuse. He added that he continued the project (now in its 25th year) when he assumed his role in 2007 because it was so popular among students, art teachers and school administrators.
“Is it a good message? And how good is the artwork? That’s the combination,” Shellenberger said of the project’s criteria. “We thought the picture [Rebecca] drew was pretty powerful.”