ART CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

25 05 2013

I have had the opportunity to work with talented and compassionate artists throughout my career as an art teacher.  I have had several alums become art teachers, designers, and advocates for change.  I am so proud to have been a part of their development.  This is no exception.  Celeste Jennings is a junior in my art studio and she has been in my studio for three years.  She has participated in Curbside Couture as a designer and has blossomed through this experience.  Celeste can draw, paint, sculpt, sew, and just about anything else.

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Celeste Jennings “Broken Heart”

Celeste created a touching painting about the loss of her father. She completed the piece during the last three weeks of school.  She often has several works of art going on so it wasn’t a surprise to see her sprawled on the floor with a large piece of mat board with watercolor, ink, and scraps of paper strewn all around her work space.  As I was teaching a different class Celeste came in to work during her study hall.  I circulate around the studio all the time, so I glanced over to what she was creating and what I saw, jerked at my heart strings.  A beautiful silhouette with gradations of thinned India ink dripped down the long surface.  The addition of a realistically painted heart was placed in the chest area of the girl who is symbolic of Celeste.  I watched as she tore the heart into pieces and placed it scattered away from the figure like a broken heart.  The lines of ink that dripped down the composition completed the figure but also reminiscent of a gown.  “Very Celeste”  She glued the pieces down on the surface and added crumpled pink and red pieces of Oriental paper.  I did not say a word but I knew I would need to ask her about this imagery later.  I continued with my class and the bell rang.  Celeste kept working….I looked over to her work space and she added red and pink drips of watercolor streaming down from the girl’s heart.  I had to walk away.  Such a powerful image and it said so much about her feelings- so personal.  I watched her clean up and prop the image against an easel.  Celeste was happily putting things away.  She was very pleased with her painting.  I did not speak to her about it.  I couldn’t – not yet.

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OK Love- Progress Celeste Jennings

Days went by and Celeste left the painting alone and worked on a new design for a skirt.  I removed the painting from the easel and elevated to the front board.  Then during my prep Celeste came into work so we talked about her imagery.  She was not sad and was happy that I found her work so moving.  I told her that it was so different from her other works of art.  This was emotional and sad.  Celeste did not feel it was sad….she saw beauty.  Yes- it was beautiful …..a beautiful way to express her feelings about the loss of her father.  Celeste’s father passed away two years ago to a sudden heart attack.  We speak of him often and I feel I am beginning to know him through her.

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Artist Celeste Jennings

I posted the image on my twitter and on the Ning Art2.0 and it got the attention of a friend who is an art teacher in Wisconsin.  She offered a suggestion….”maybe adapt the lines at the bottom and turn it into a tornado.  Do something with this image to help the children in Moore, Oklahoma.  You know like you did with the Homes for Haiti project.”

It never entered my mind….I was still captivated by her original image about her father.  Yes- I could see the possibilities but I already work very hard to support my Homes for Haiti project and this is a personal image for Celeste.  This needs to be her project and her decision.  It was exam week so I did have the opportunity to go to lunch with Celeste and so I offered her the suggestion.  She lit up!  She was so excited to have the opportunity to help the children in Oklahoma.  We raced back to the studio and within three hours she completed the painting.

I documented the process for her and we discussed how she can make this project work.  She took to the ideas like a duck to water.  The whole time she spoke about her father and what he did and that he loved working in elementary schools so this is a perfect tribute to her dad.  So today Celeste has opened her Etsy store to sell poster prints of her painting and is in the process of selling t-shirts too.  She is taking this project on with her mother and brothers support.  Our school community has embraced her idea and is supporting her project too.  It is my wish and hope that many more will support her efforts to help the children in Moore, Oklahoma.  Proceeds from the sales will be donated to an organization in Moore, OK for immediate support for families and hopefully a sizable donation can be given to an elementary school to help pay for rebuilding the school with a safe room.

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Artist Celeste Jennings- OK Love Project

Just have to repeat myself again- ART CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!

Link to Celeste’s Etsy Store

http://www.etsy.com/shop/DesignsbyCelesteJ

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One response

6 06 2013
roylcoblog

A very moving post. This expresses the best intentions with the most sincerest of emotions, and I am truly happy to know that Celeste reflects her personality wholeheartedly through her art. Best wishes!

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