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For Woodlands Senior, Art is a Family Affair

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Woodlands High School senior Precious Blake, 17, is known for her artistic skills.

Some of her pieces are displayed in the school district administration building, called the “mansion.” Earlier this year, the pictures had appeared in a Woodlands exhibition at the Greenburgh Public Library, from which Sarah White, Greenburgh's executive director for arts and culture, was supposed to pick one work from different students for a special show in the Town Hall.

But in Precious’s case, White said, she couldn’t resist taking a few more.

“I was so impressed that I chose pieces from Precious in different mediums,” White said, mentioning charcoal, collage, oil and pencil.

There were Precious’s pieces in her sister’s apartment too, but the two paintings on the living room’s wall were from the sister herself, Hope Salley.

“We are all very artistic,” Precious's mother, Linda Blake, said. (Precious’s father Donald Blake does clothing and jewelry craft.)

Precious recalled the pre-college course she took this summer at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she worked a lot with fashion illustration, one of the art forms she likes most, along with portraits.

“A lot of works that I do are self-portraits,” she said.

One of her favorite depicts two women side by side. The one on the right, disheveled and black-eyed, is biting the face of the second, normal-looking woman, stretching her cheek, eye and mouth. The effect is impressive.

“This is a little bit of the craziest one,” Precious said. “Usually I draw things like they look.”

She said that she was inspired in the novel “Heart of Darkness,” in which Joseph Conrad addresses the duality of human nature.

“The two parts of me are kind of fighting each other,” Precious said, adding that she usually tries to make her pieces ambiguous, and let people interpret them.

Andrea Walters, Precious’s arts teacher in Woodlands, said that Blake’s skills allow her to express in a constructive way the conflicts every teenager has.

“She is a teenager growing up and trying to make sense of the world,” Walters said. “She works those things out with her artistic ability.”

Precious Blake said that Rhode Island was a rich experience because, besides being the first time she lived in a campus, she met teenagers from all over the world who had the “the same drive and the same ambition as me.”

Precious's “drive and ambition” are apparent when she talks about the eight college applications she is already working on. She said she plans to study arts and minor on business or teaching.

“I have top choices and I have safe choices,” she said of the colleges, Rhode Island being the topmost.

“She is very focused,” Linda Blake said. “We are very proud of her.”

But despite Precious' multiple activities (she also takes arts classes at the Westchester Community College and at Manhattan’s Cooper Union) she finds time to help the community. As part of a peer-to-peer program, she is tutoring a 16-year-old Scarsdale boy that has difficulty in math.

She is also the vice-president of her environmental club, she said.

“And she plays tennis,” Linda Blake said.

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