VANCOUVER, Wash. — While many high school juniors are busy deciding on a dress to wear to this year’s prom, 17-year-old Michelle Latham’s attention is focused instead on choosing paintings for an exhibit of her work to run April 21-May 30 at Washington State University Vancouver’s Student Services Gallery.

The Lake Oswego resident has been creating art “since I can remember, and I have loved it just as long.” She has received weekly instruction at L and B Studios in Portland, Ore., since first grade, and last year was invited by the instructors to present her first solo exhibit, “Stained Reflector Tags.”

“I once said that ‘reflector tags’ are what I use to identify myself, while ‘stained’ refers to the people who have influenced me in the past,” Latham said. “That show was based on my mind, and what I would like the world to look like.” With her WSU Vancouver exhibit, titled “Inside Looking Out,” the artist hopes to show the world how she actually views it.

“I’ve become interested in architectural forms and enjoy exploring hard edges using organic brush strokes,” said Latham, who describes herself as a multimedia artist. “I love to draw anything that has clean lines that I can control, rather than being spontaneous and random.”

Latham’s approach to art is garnering increased attention and critical praise. She is routinely invited to participate in the annual Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts show, and in 2002 was judged Best of Show among Oregon high schools for a charcoal work called “Spin.”

Latham plans to attend an art institute in San Francisco or Chicago after graduating from Lake Oswego High School next year.

“I have the support of a wonderful family who gives me the freedom to pursue this journey,” she said. “I want to keep searching.”

The public can meet Latham at a reception planned at WSU Vancouver for 5:30 p.m. April 22 in the Student Services Building.

The Student Services Gallery will continue to show the works of Claudia Mederos in the “Small Works on Paper” exhibition through May 2. Following that exhibit will be the WSU Vancouver Student Show, a showcase of digital imaging and photography, which will run May 5-June 30.

The campus’ Diversity Task Force is hosting an exhibit of life masks in the WSU Vancouver Library. Ceramic artist Beverly Toyu created the masks using a process that involves taking an impression from a living person’s face.

“My statement through these masks is that each and everyone of us is perfect and special as we are,” Toyu said. “Yes, we do wear many different masks, but the real mask of us is the mandala of the human spirit, which is captured in a moment of tranquility and oneness with our inner selves and inner being.”

Toyu has exhibited in art shows, museums and various galleries throughout the United States. The public can view this art form Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Friday and weekends, noon-5 p.m.

For further information on these exhibits, or to learn more about WSU Vancouver galleries, contact Campus Advancement at (360)546-9600.