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Carthage eighth-grader takes on commissioned art projects

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CARTHAGE — In Carthage, people have known that Keely C. O’Connor has artistic talent since a third-grade drawing placed first in the county fair.

Now 14, she has earned merit for an international poster contest, resulting in recognition from the state Senate, and is taking on commissioned projects, including illustrating a 33-page children’s book.

“It’s very exciting,” the Carthage eighth-grader said.

“We were very shocked over the recognition from the Senate,” said Keely’s mother, Kellie T.

Keely was one of 23 merit winners in the 2013-14 Lions Club International Peace Poster contest out of about 400,000 applicants.

Last summer, Keely attended Interlochen Center for the Arts summer camp in Michigan. She received a grant through the Heather A. Freeman Foundation to attend the prestigious camp last year and this year. The foundation board commissioned her to do a charcoal drawing of Mrs. Freeman, who died in 2007 in a motorcycle accident.

The portrait is one of two commissioned pieces Keely is developing. The other is 11 illustrations for a 33-page book.

“It’s a children’s book about a woman who hoards cats and a girl who finds out and doesn’t know what to do about it,” Keely said.

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