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Young artist traveling to Italy
Trip part of HBO series
Drew Dickerson counts playing the drums among his many artistic hobbies. The teen author left Sunday for Italy, where he will be part of an HBO documentary. - photo by Alyssa LaRenzie
Art teacher Kevin Whitley said student Drew Dickerson sat down in class one morning with “his usual Drew-ness.”

“Well, did you make it?” Whitley recalled asking him.

He said Dickerson, 18, nonchalantly answered “yes” the day after learning he would take part in a trip to Italy that would be chronicled in an HBO documentary series.

The Forsyth Central graduating senior was recently selected from an elite group of young artists to appear in the second season of “Masterclass.”

The 30-minute show on HBO Family follows three “creators” as they meet with a master in their concentration.

Though Dickerson may have displayed his typical demeanor in announcing his upcoming travels, Whitley said the young author is raring to go.

“You can tell he’s thrilled to death,” Whitley said. “He’ll be surrounded by people that are in the literary field. I think he’s just going to absorb it.”

Dickerson, who has written plays and short stories, left Sunday for a nine-day journey to New York City and Rome.

He will be filmed while learning about writing from John Guare, a famed American playwright.

“I’m trying to learn the ins and outs of publication,” said Dickerson, adding that he also hopes to get some editing advice.

The 27 students appearing on the series were chosen from about 150 YoungArts finalists during a weeklong convention in Miami, said Kate McPherson, organization spokeswoman.

“Students that come through YoungArts programs are some of the most talented, up-and-coming young artists,” McPherson said.

Dickerson’s short story portfolio secured his place among the 20 writing finalists. More than 600 students applied for grants.

“It was very voice driven, sort of a Sallingerian sort of feel,” he said of his winning entry. “I don’t really work in plot too terribly much.

“It’s always just weird. It sounds pretentious actually whenever I say it to people.”

Whitley said the student has a knack for thinking outside of the box in his “abstract style.”

High intellect aside, Whitley described Dickerson as “modest” and “well-respected by his peers and his teachers.”

For his part, Dickerson said he’s been interested and involved in writing for as long as he can remember.

He’s also an avid reader, spending about an hour or two a day with a book. In addition to writing, he paints and plays drums.

“The arts are a very human response to stress or frustration or limitation,” Dickerson said.

Though he’s missing his own high school graduation, Dickerson will be able to funnel any of those frustrations into his work in Italy.

“It’s like a triage of where I’d rather be,” he said.