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Fine Arts Student of the Week: Senior creates whole new worlds through writing

This week's Fine Arts Student of the Week his Brainerd High School senior Zachary Neuman.

Fine Arts Student - Zachary Neuman
This week's Fine Arts Student of the Week is Brainerd High School senior Zachary Neuman, recognized for creative writing abilities.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
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Zachary Neuman

Grade: Senior.

Age: 17.

Art focus: Creative writing.

Adviser nomination: "Zachary's ability to weave creative analogies as well as various forms of figurative language and dialogue into writing allow readers to feel as though they are right there in the story too,” adviser Steffanie Sanford said.

Memorable fine arts achievement: The leap I’ve made from our first two assignments, being under three pages, to now (currently) having twenty pages and counting.

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Artist most admired: Alex Hirsch.

What first got you interested in writing? I think it was when we first went into quarantine. My brain had nothing to do and that’s when it exploded with story ideas. My imagination was always a little stunted growing up, but when I finally had free-time it all went into overdrive.

What genre of writing do you most enjoy? It would have to be fantasy/adventure. I love worldbuilding and it allows my imagination to run rampant.

Where do you get your inspiration? I get inspiration from a lot of different things, but listening to music is probably my most popular fountain of ideas. The lyrics, the meaning, all of it can spin into inspiring just a single aspect of a character or creating an entirely new story.

What piece are you most proud of? Hard to say, I’ve got a lot of works-in-progress at the moment (each at different parts of their story) but, if I had to pick, it would probably be my current creative writing assignment, our thriller.

What’s the most challenging part of the writing process for you? Writer’s block, 100%. Doesn’t matter if I have brilliant ideas — if I can’t properly word what I want to happen, it doesn’t get written down.

Other extracurricular activities: I’m tech crew in theater and also a member of our school’s GSA.

Plans after high school: I’m not entirely sure. I’ve been looking at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, but the price of tuition is a little pricey for me. I’ll probably take a couple gap years and build up my portfolio before applying. I want to be a comic artist/writer.

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Favorite movie: It’s a tossup between “Corpse Bride” and “Sharkboy and Lavagirl.” The latter was my childhood, but the music in “Corpse Bride” is top-tier.

Favorite TV show: “Gravity Falls,” hands down. Nothing can top it.

Favorite book: I can’t pick a favorite! There’s the entirety of the Percy Jackson series, but there’s also Magic Treehouse, “Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat,” “Echo,” and I could go on for hours about my favorite books — there’s no clear favorite among them.

Favorite song: “Corpse Dance” by Kikuo.

Favorite band/musical artist: Lady Gaga.

Favorite subject: I’d have to pick any of the arts. I’ve always had the core classes growing up, so art is a breath of fresh air in my schedule.

Favorite Thanksgiving food: It’s gotta be pumpkin pie. Forget the turkey, forget the ham, pumpkin pie is, and forever will be, my favorite.

Hobbies: I love writing, obviously, but I also draw and play video games. Most of my reading nowadays has been my own work, but I still love hunkering down with a good book and a flashlight.

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Parents: Brian Neuman, from St. Cloud.

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