Before coming to Laurel Ridge, Azriel Lee had never had a formal art class. This fall, she will be heading off to the highly-regarded Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla.
There, she will be studying illustration, for which the college has been ranked second in the nation. Ringling is also known for successful career placement, according to Lee. She is able to go to Ringling thanks to a major scholarship from the school.
“It’s a school where a lot of creative people from all over the world look forward to attending,” she said.
Lee, a Berryville resident who was homeschooled, simultaneously graduated from high school and Laurel Ridge in 2020, thanks to dual enrollment. She earned an associate degree in general studies.
“There are a bunch of different areas that I could see myself going into after school,” Lee said. “I would like to work on some of my own projects, but I think realistically I would like to aim for the entertainment industry working on films and TV shows and games.
“Ultimately, I just want to be able to support myself doing something I’m passionate about.”
She has a passion for illustration, for the step before an animation team would come in. Numerous concept artists and visual development artists lay the groundwork for the later animation.
As far back as she can remember, Lee has been drawing. She has been pursuing art seriously since age 14.
It was at Laurel Ridge where Lee took her first art classes with Professor Marion Mercer. She credits those classes with getting her to where she is today.
“In homeschooling, the art curriculum is not normally focused on, so I was self-taught up until that point,” Lee explained. “It was difficult being graded on what I was creating. My art classes were difficult, but they were very helpful in my development as an artist and how I approach art – my mindset in approaching the artistic process.
“My art classes at Laurel Ridge had a hand in setting me up for success.”