As I prepare for the storm heading our way, I am also wrestling the storm in my heart. On Wednesday August 28th, I heard the news about the passing of one of my young art students, Simon Baker.
I think everyone who has walked into my studio knows that it is a safe place to be yourself. A safe zone to express in their own way their love of art. Simon was one of those students, full of art talent, eager to learn how to express his love for art in his own way. He tried many different mediums and found out that he was drawn to watercolors and mosaics. Once he created his first mosaic there was no stopping him! He never wanted to miss art class, he would even come to class in a suit and tie because he had a Bar Mitzvah to attend right after class.
He continued taking art classes with me for several years, coming to the age of making the decision to try out for BAK Middle School of the Arts. This was a very hard decision for Simon as his love for baseball was outweighing his love for art. He told me he didn't like the baseball field at BAK and wanted to play on a different field, so he didn’t want to pursue it. Since BAK is a great school that nurtures those students who have the passion for the Arts, Simon's parents really wanted to give Simon a chance at this opportunity, so he was enrolled in my BAK Skill Building class. Halfway through the class sessions, Simon told his parents he didn't want to go to BAK. We all talked about it and Simon eventually agreed to finish with my classes and go through with the audition. Little did we know he had already made up his mind. Simon did not pass the audition… on purpose. The saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink” comes to mind when Simon told me, "I said I would DO the audition BUT I DIDN'T SAY I WOULD PASS IT". Again, his love for baseball won over his love for art.
Simon only did a few more classes with me after he moved on to middle school - as most of my students do – because homework and athletics take up a lot of their time. Simon was a talented artist, smart and funny person, and I will always have a piece of my heart broken knowing his pencil has come to rest.
As I think about all of my different students during this difficult time, I want to send a message to all of the boys out there: I once had one male student, very similar to Simon, BEG ME to NOT put his picture on Facebook, or to tell anyone that he came to my studio! I asked him, “Why?!”. He said because he would be teased by the other boys on his Lacrosse team. I was shocked and told him that art makes him a better person, it’s an outlet and a balance of all your talents, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to hide it from anyone. Having art talent is a true gift! My wish is for all of my young male artists to be given the ability to express their talent without judgement.
Sasha was one of Brush Strokes And More's first students.
Working on his portfolio that was required for auditions at this time of his try outs.
Sasha was one of eight graduating seniors selected throughout the entire world to attend Juilliard.
Arianna was attending our pencil drawing summer camp in 2013.
But had attended our classes before this.
Arianna worked on her skill building for both BAK and Dreyfoos here at Brush Strokes And More