Winning Essay by Lydia Z. From South Carolina Attending Clemson
I was a new third-grade student in a new school in a new town. During the fall of 2004 a visiting Artist in Residence came to our school. His name was Larry Lebby, a world-renowned African American South Carolina artist. He assiduously worked with our class, teaching us all the techniques of drawing. At the end of his residency, he graciously offered to give me art lessons, never taking any payment for the time that he spent teaching me. His lessons focused on skill and precision. He was calm and patient. His artistic transformations were amazing. His lessons laid the foundation for my love of art, a love that I still have today. However, his inspiration lies not only in my artistic endeavors, but also in my work ethic. His training has inspired me to be precise and patient in my academic work and to take pride in a finished product. This training has helped to guide me in my scientific lab work and will continue to guide me as I pursue a medical career.
Larry Francis Lebby was born in Dixiana, South Carolina, in 1950. His artistic talents became evident in his childhood as he would draw pictures in the sand. He credits his high school art teachers as being his first real trainers in art. After graduating from high school, he attended Allen University in Columbia and the University of South Carolina, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts degree. 

Mr. Lebby says that his artwork is his personal statement about life. His artwork brings affirmation to his Southern heritage. This is evidenced in his paintings of the people, landscape and architecture of South Carolina. Mr. Lebby has been described as one of the most sophisticated artists in the world. He uses a plethora of mediums in his artistic renderings, including those as basic as a Bic ballpoint pen. Mr. Lebby’s work has been on display throughout the world in a multitude of places, including the Smithsonian Institute, the Vatican and the White House. Most recently, Mr. Lebby was commissioned to paint a portrait of Senator Clementa Pinckney, an African American pastor who died when he was shot  along with eight other African Americans at Emanuel AME in Charleston on June 17, 2015. The portrait now hangs in the SC State house.

Mr. Lebby is dedicated to teaching young people. He uses art as a way to educate them of his Southern heritage as well as to expose them to cultural diversity in the U.S. Mr. Lebby once said, “I have taught, demonstrated and encouraged our youth to the importance of his or her special talents or gifts, cultivating them and sharing them with others.” I am one of those youth. Mr. Lebby afforded me an opportunity that I will always remember and appreciate, and I will forever be inspired not only by his brilliant artistic abilities but also by his selfless concern for others.

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