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COTTONWOOD SENIOR WHO LIVES A WHIRLWIND EXISTENCE FOCUSES HER ENERGIES ON ART WITH DEPTH AND DETAIL

One quarter of school before graduation, Cottonwood High School senior Candice Lund faces an unusual dilemma.

"I'm here from 6 a.m. to 6 at night. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when I graduate," Lund said.Lund wears several hats at her high school. She's an accomplished visual artist. She acts in school plays, sings in the school's madrigal group and a cappella choir.

A week after playing the lead in the school's production "Lost in Yonkers," Lund is allowing herself a week off before she dives into her next project: directing "The Fantasticks." The musical is one of three productions the school puts on each year.

Lund is just as devoted to her academic pursuits. She holds a 3.89 grade point average and recently missed being named Sterling Scholar nominee representing Cottonwood in visual arts by one-tenth of a point.

What makes the whirlwind pace of Lund's life more remarkable is that she is legally blind. She was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, which means her optic nerves are underdeveloped.

As such, Lund has no vision in her right eye and has 20-60 vision in her left eye. She has no peripheral vision and no depth perception. "Everything I see is flat," she explains.

Yet her artwork shows depth, perception and shadows, whether she works in watercolor, oil, pencil, colored pencil, scratch board, ink or chalk.

Art teacher Bill Larsen said Lund's work is exceptional. Although she has been in advanced art classes for two years, he was not aware of her disability until this school year.

"She can see a lot better than a lot of kids I have who have 20-20 vision," he said.

Lund is a self-described realist, and her work has appeared in two juried shows. Two of her works were selected for the annual statewide high school show held recently at Springville Museum of Art, which features the state's finest young artists.

Unlike her classmates who work on easels, Lund prefers to work on a table.

"I have to be close to it," she said, holding her hand a mere three inches from her face. "I need a lot of good light, but then, it will hurt anyone's eyes not working with enough light."

Despite the added physical stress of hunching over her artwork, Lund does not spare any details. In fact, she relishes intricate detail, once poring hours on a project depicting a child wearing a dress with an elaborate lace collar.

About the only thing Lund can't do is drive, which is a frustration. "It makes it difficult. I'm a very independent person. I can't just pick up and go when I have to depend on other people," she said.

DeAnn Graves, specialist for the visually impaired in Granite School District, has worked with Lund since sixth grade. "I just think she's always been self-motivated. She wants to get it done and do it the right way. She really is very conscientious," she said.

Upon graduation, Lund plans to attend Utah State University. Eventually, she would like to work for Disney in animation. She also plans to continue to participate in the arts competitions and performance in college.

"You have to be brave to be an artist. Art, drama and music are so subjective. You're judged by people constantly. Depending on the day and their mood, they decide whether or not you win. It's really the luck of the draw," she said.