A Canal Winchester High School senior may get the chance to exhibit her artwork in New York City after receiving top honors in the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

A Canal Winchester High School senior may get the chance to exhibit her artwork in New York City after receiving top honors in the regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Kendra Zarbaugh earned a Gold Key award for her sculpture, "Like a Fish Out of Water," which currently is displayed at the Central Ohio Regional Exhibition at the Columbus College of Art and Design.

CCAD hosted the Central Ohio Regional Exhibition, where nearly 600 pieces of art were judged; only 25 received Gold Key awards.

According to the competition website, regional judges review approximately 200,000 pieces of artwork by students in seventh through 12th grade from across North America. The top-scoring 5 percent of that work is sent on to New York City for review by a set of finalist judges made up of nationally renowned artists, art professionals and educators.

At that point, about 350 students may be awarded gold medals, exhibit their work in New York City, and be eligible for up to $10,000 in college scholarships.

"I think receiving this award is very honorable. To do something that I did for myself, a very internal thing, and then to have someone else appreciate it - that is very cool. I'm very blessed and honored," Zarbaugh said.

Her piece began as an entry in the annual Duck Tape brand "Stuck at Prom" scholarship contest, where students create formal wear to wear to prom out of Duck Tape.

However, Zarbaugh did not win that competition and abandoned her duct tape prom dress at the bottom of her closet before her art teacher, Kelly Helser, asked her to bring it in.

"When she brought it in, I thought, 'this needs to go to the next level, so let's work on it and submit it to Scholastic,'" Helser said. "She's a kid with a raw talent and a maturity to make things that people may interpret their own way, but they can take meaning from it.

"She's not afraid to try different techniques and mediums, and she willingly accepts constructive criticism."

Zarbaugh said Helser inspired her to rework the dress into a sculptural piece.

"I made a plaster cast of a model we had in the classroom that I could then attach the dress to, and mounted it on an old lamp stand I found in my garage," Zarbaugh said. "I'd competed before but didn't win anything, so Helser helped me a lot. This is my senior year, so it's my last chance; my teacher means the world to me."

After graduation, Zarbaugh said she hopes to attend art school to continue honing her skills and turn her creativity into a career.

"Art has been my outlet my whole life," she said. "I'm not a sports kind of girl and I can't throw a ball.

"My mom always says my river runs deep; being internally bound - well, this is my outlet, so this lets me be me. It's something I own and can feel myself in. I'm looking into colleges right now but it depends on what money I can get."

If Zarbaugh wins enough in scholarships, she said she would like to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

"But I'm kind of a homebody, so that far away might be tough," Zarbaugh said.

All of the award-winning pieces in the regional contest will be on view at the Canzani Center Gallery at CCAD through Feb. 4.