My beautiful and lovely 17 year old daughter, Emily, has recently discovered something about herself…. she’s a talented artist! I know you’re probably thinking that I’m biased (yes, of course I am) or that I expected or directed her to be an artist (I didn’t, promise!). Other than the genes that are in the family, this story is completely her own. Yes, my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and sister were/are all artists in their own special way. But I don’t think any of us ever expected to be artists as young girls… it just kind of happened. And now it seems Emily’s journey as an artist is beginning as well.
Growing up, Emily colored, drew, and painted just like all little girls do. But when it came time to pick her elective as a high school freshmen she picked whatever her friends were doing, and in her case it was Chorus. She hated it. Ok, cross that one off the list.
For her sophomore year, she choose Yearbook. As much as I think she could have really done well and enjoyed the experience, let’s just say it was a nightmare for various reasons in her particular circumstance. So that’s off the list too.
Emily was told to pick a freshman elective and stick with it so she could announce on her college application how great and proficient she was in that particular “field.” After the first two years of not-so-great elective experiences, my sweet girl faced her Junior year with uncertainty. So my husband and I said, “Don’t worry about all that college stuff, just pick something you like. This is your chance to try stuff out and have fun… this is why they have electives!”
So she came downstairs a few days later and said, “I think I want to try Art.” So as a Junior, she swallowed her pride and plopped her humble self down at the table in Art 1. Not only was the class packed full of freshmen who wanted an easy A, but the class was LAST period – the period where everyone is DONE thinking and teaching for the day. Let’s just say there was a severe lack of enthusiasm in the classroom. So she laid low and avoided the drama as best she could each day. By the middle of the year I began to see a few of her pieces and was impressed by how creative she was. I thought her ideas and execution were fantastic but maybe my bias is kicking in? Regardless, what really mattered to me was that she really seemed to enjoy the work.
One of the Art 1 assignments was to create a self-portrait. She brought it home and she kept saying it was no big deal but what I saw was amazing! A few weeks later she came home and told me that her art teachers and peers at her school looked over all the Art 1, 2 and 3 pieces and chose to send two of her pieces to a county wide art exhibit! By the way, the school can only submit 6 pieces and hardly ever choose something from Art 1. (Shameless Mom plug). We were shocked to find out they chose 2 of Emily’s pieces!
On the evening of April 14th, we piled in the car and headed to a local college where the art exhibit was held. Over 100 pieces of art from students of various high schools all over the county were on display. The event included two high schools specializing in art, The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities and The Fine Arts Center. As we waited for the event to begin, we slowly walked through the exhibit and were amazed by all the imagination, skill and creativity of these students! There were all kinds of mediums including drawing, painting, etching, sculpture, etc.
After all the parents and guests had time to peruse the artwork display, the host began to give out awards. For each category, they gave honorable mentions, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place awards, and even cash prizes. (Cash? Who knew?) When the drawing category came up (her two pieces where both drawings), the host said the judge had a hard time judging because it was the most competitive category. So the host gave out a bunch of honorable mention awards. Emily’s name was not called so we thought that was the end of that. All of a sudden her big beautiful face flashed on the screen above (her self portrait) and she was awarded 3rd place!! We were speechless! We thought it was good but we knew we were a little biased! Wowee! It ended up that another girl from her school won the Best in Show award. It was great night for her and for her school! And she won $25! (I need to ask her what she spent that on!) 🙂
A few weeks later, they too had an event at her high school for just their pieces. Emily and I dressed up and headed out to see her friends and view all the art. She didn’t think there was much more to it that night and had a headache and wanted to go. I asked her, “Are you sure you want to go? I think I heard an announcement about something later.” She was sure. So we headed out to get some cake. While we were sitting on the back patio she got a call from her friend. “Emily, you won! Your self-portrait won Best in Show!” I screamed, “What?! We missed it?” I was so proud and mad at her at the same time!! We were there but we left and missed the award! I couldn’t believe it. Let me just add that the piece that won Best in Show at the county exhibit was also at her high school exhibit but she placed FIRST this time (another proud Mom statement for you there). She also won a unique award at the Junior/Senior Awards night at her school for her excellence in artwork this year.
I remember one night a few months ago we were talking in her room about college. This was before all these crazy awards happened and she asked me where she would put all her paints, brushes, paper and such at college. I said there’s no room for that in a little college dorm room! I could see her shock, disappointment and true love for it all in one look that she flashed back at me. Plus, we had been talking a lot about college majors and she really didn’t know what she thought about it all. At the time I was thinking Art would make a great hobby/outlet for her to enjoy when it was time to relax – something I believe is critical in this life of intense busyness. But needless to say, she’s taking another look at Art when it comes to college. And we’re excited that this summer she’ll be attending a pre-college art program which should help clarify even further what direction she should head, since this all so fresh after all.
We are THRILLED for her! No matter what she chooses to study or chooses as a career in the future, I think her art genes have finally kicked in. 🙂