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Senior profile: Waterford's Emily Diana a portrait of creativity

By Stephen Chupaska

Publication: The Day

Published June 04. 2011 4:00AM
Sean D. Elliot/The Day
Emily Diana is a senior at Waterford High School.

It's surely difficult, trying to translate the mysterious buzz of creativity into something as inadequate as mere words.

But Emily Diana, after some thoughtful consideration, will give it a whirl.

"There is a place you can get to when you fuse with artwork," she said, "And it's really exhilarating when you think about the emotions you can instill in (the person) who is looking at artwork."

Diana, 18, who will graduate from Waterford High School later this month, even has her own term for the feeling: the artist's high.

"I don't do drugs," Diana said. "So, I don't know what being high is like. I'm just sort of playing around with the term."

Diana felt her most intense artist's high last summer, while working on "Puzzle," a gray self-portrait as a jigsaw puzzle with a missing piece.

"It's about falling to pieces," she said. "It's about internally not really knowing for sure who you are."

That Diana, who speaks in complete sentences and avoids teenage slang, might express that uncertainty might come as a surprise to some.

After all, she gets nothing but compliments from her teachers.

Ian Cheney, a world history teacher, called Diana the best student he's had in his five years at the school.

"She looks for suggestions from teachers," Cheney said. "She wants to grow as a student."

Others at the school, such as Principal Don Macrino and the secretaries in the main office, offer testimony about her academic achievements and modest temperament with little prompting.

Although she's off to Yale in the fall, Diana doesn't exhibit any overt "Boola Boola" enthusiasm about the prospect of studying at one of the world's elite universities.

"Emily is really humble about her work" Cheney said. "She doesn't consider herself to be the best."

Fittingly, Diana is as eloquent about her shortcoming s as she is about her passions.

"Organization is a major point," Diana said. "It just doesn't happen for me, and it's always going to be that way. I look at some people's notebooks and everything is in order. I think, 'How do they do that?'"

Diana said she's much less decisive than some of her fellow classmates but finds a sliver of comfort in indecision.

"It's a problem, spreading energy around," Diana said. "But at the same time, it's not as important that you are good at something, compared to how you enjoy it."

As such, Diana said she hasn't decided on a major yet, though it'll probably be something in the humanities.

"I'm interested in how the mind works," she said.

Diana has been investigating some of the various singing or dancing clubs available to students at the university.

"I'm looking forward to finding people who are on the same page as me," Diana said.

Diana said she doesn't have "a roaring social life" outside of school activities that include the soccer team and the drama club, though she's pleased at the number of friendships that have blossomed in her final year at Waterford.

But Diana admits she often finds it easier to engage strangers in conversation.

In fact, the person Diana admires most is her 16-year-old brother Elliot.

"He's really inspirational," she said. "(Elliot) is so laid-back and personable."

Diana will spend the summer with her family in Quaker Hill, where they settled after bouncing around the country from Idaho, Massachusetts and Illinois.

She'll work at Bob's Stores and try to save some money for next year in New Haven, where she'll most likely cultivate new artist's highs.

"It's a really wonderful process," Diana said. "It's great to make work and see yourself reflected in it."

s.chupaska@theday.com

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