Graning earns Jean Lake scholarship for photography

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Thomas Graning, a Charles Henderson High School senior, has been named the winner of the 2012 Jean Lake Scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded annually by the Troy Arts Council to a senior from the Pike County area whose artwork meets the requirements established by the arts council.

“Applicants for the scholarship must submit 10 works of art,” said Pam Smith, CHHS art teacher. “Five of those works must be from a concentrated body of work and the other five must demonstrate the breadth of the artist’s work. The applicants’ GPA and ACT scores are also considered.

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“Thomas excelled in all areas and is very deserving of this scholarship and this recognition,” Smith said. “We are extremely proud of him and proud for him. We congratulate him as the 2012 Jean Lake Scholarship winner.”

Smith said Graning began doing award-winning photography on the state level as a high school freshman.

“I was excited then about Thomas’ potential and he has certainly lived up to the high standards that I set for him,” Smith said. “He is a star in the classroom.”

And Graning is not just a star in the classroom at CHHS. He was recently named one of five winners in the State Arts Council’s Visual Arts competition for 2012.

“As Thomas moves on to college and beyond, I continue to have high expectations for him and I’m confident that he will, again, live up to them,” Smith said.

Graning expressed appreciation to those who made the scholarship opportunity available to him.

“I appreciate the recognition and the honor from the committee,” he said. “There are a lot of talented artists in Pike County, and I’m honored to be selected.”

And, he said, Smith has been a significant influence in the development of his art. “Since the first time I had Mrs. Smith as an art teacher in ninth grade, she has challenged me and help me grow,” he said. “She’s a great teacher and mentor.”

The 10 photographs by the 2012 Jean Lake Scholarship winner are on exhibit at the Johnson Center for the Arts in downtown Troy through April 29.

Graning’s entry in the competition focuses on emotion in photographs.

“The five concentration photographs show great emotion,” Graning said. “They are not posed, not influenced by me. They capture how people felt at that one particular time and show the extremes of emotion.”

Graning pointed to one photograph that shows the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

In the foreground, a Troy Dixie Youth baseball player walked dejectedly from the field as the victorious team celebrated in the background.

“Both emotions are in the same photograph,” Graning said. “I like photographs that capture emotion, but it’s the breadth work shows whether nor not you are a well-rounded photographer.”

Graning’s breadth work demonstrates a varied range of interests for the young photographer including the still life photographs of roasted piglets in a restaurant in Spain and fresh vegetables in a farmer’s market in rural Alabama.

Graning said he enjoys the challenge of finding unique views and unusual angles to tell the story.

Graning works as a photographer at The Messenger. After high school graduation, he plans to attend the University of Mississippi and major in journalism with an emphasis in photography. He then plans to attend law school, focusing on media and communications law issues.

He is the son of Stacy Graning of Troy and Tom Graning of Natchez, Miss.