Art has affected my life in countless ways. It provides me with an outlet separate form my everyday stresses, pains, and concerns. I began drawing stick figures and rectangular cats when I was three. Today, art is my main hobby and second life. Art is a dimension where I do not have to worry about right answers, opinions, or expectations, because uniqueness and originality are appreciated. Each time I sit down in front of a blank canvas, I somehow paint my way into a new life, world, and personality.
In the beginning of seventh grade, the majority of walls throughout my school were painted white because the previous murals were outdated. When I walked through the halls to my classes, the blank walls sparked curiosity, for my imagination ran wild with ideas of paintings that could fill the empty space. During that time, a speaker, Mat von Ehrenkrook, visited my school. He spoke particularly about taking action in what you believe in. His speeches motived me to mention the idea of painting a mural to our principal, Mr. Rodolph. I prepared a presentation and sketched out my idea to fill the walls. It took two times meeting with him before he gave me a yes! I was thrilled and so ready to begin the project.
A few weeks later, a teacher and I spent an entire Saturday painting the empty wall. I specifically remember when we finished. Together, we took a step back and enjoyed the art we had just created. It was in that moment when I knew that my life journey will revolve around inspiring and helping others through art. Before I painted the mural, I knew the words, “Anything is possible” just as an inspirational quote, but now I now the quote is true. I see the world in a whole different way. Instead of letting each day pull me, I pull it. Therefore, this was a huge stepping stone and realization point in my life that still motivates me today.
COLOR THROUGH THE UGLY
Later that year, I hosted art classes to elementary students, and donated all of the money to a foundation that grants underprivileged children with the gift of art called the Dreaming Zebra Foundation. The art classes were so fun, and I learned so much while teaching the children. Each kid had their own style and was not afraid of what others thought.
After donating the money, I received a Thank You package in the mail from the organization that included the CEO’s phone number. I immediately called the number and had at least an hour long conversation with the most amazing woman, Dawne Camera. After talking to Dawne about the long waiting list of locations that need art supplies and funds, I was determined to help one way or another. So, I hosted an art supply fundraiser at my school, Ninety-One and Grace Chapel called Color Through The Ugly.
I planned to donate all of the supplies to a safety/foster home in Portland, OR that provides a safe shelter to abused women or children. Therefore, I knew that the people in that home were in a ugly or tough patch in their life and I strongly believe that art can heal any broken soul, which is why I named the drive, Color Through the Ugly. Before talking to Mr. Rodolph about possible locations for supply bins, I had never heard of Grace Chapel. He recommended emailing a few of the pastors and organizers of Grace to request putting a box in the church. I emailed them and they quickly got back to me with a yes to putting a bin in the church. That Sunday, I rode to Grace Chapel with the Rodolphs to discuss the final details of the drive. Since I have grown up a loyal Catholic, the atmosphere and services were so different than what I was used to. Honestly, the service was extremely moving, for it transformed my perspective of religion. Before, I knew religion as rituals and Bible readings, but now I have developed a true relationship with the Lord that I treasure so much.
When the fundraiser ended, I collected and sorted all of the donated materials. I was in shock at the number of supplies everyone had donated, for there was FIVE large bins worth. I am so thankful for all of the people who donated! My favorite part of hosting the Color Through the Ugly fundraiser was getting to deliver the materials. My mom and I met Dawne and together, we drove to the safety home. When we arrived, I was taken away by the atmosphere, for the shelter was a small, rundown building. We were greeted by three ladies, we entered the building with the bins of donations. Although I was slightly disappointed that we could not visit with any of the children because of privacy regulations, the volunteers and managers were so thankful and kind. We were led to the kids’ room where only plastic table and two chairs sat. I could immediately sense how badly the shelter needed art.
As for my newest adventure, I am currently working on a business called LIDA Bracelets. I am selling handmade hemp and bead bracelets, and for each bracelet sold, a portion of the profits are donated to The Dreaming Zebra Foundation. More specifically, each bracelet is $8.50 (this varies online) and $2.50 goes to art supplies for schools lacking strong art programs. I make the bracelets and beads by hand, which means each one is unique, just as every child is one of a kind. The bracelet design is built around encouraging originality through art. The name of the bracelet is very unique due to the word that each letter represents. I do not want my bracelet to portray a simple piece of jewelry, but a reminder of important things that should radiate throughout our everyday lives.
The letter “L” represents love,
“I” represents inspire,
“D” stands for dream,
and “A” stands for artistically.
Moreover, when wearing LIDA bracelet, you shall spread love, inspire others around you, stay loyal to your dream, and express your originality artistically. Each bead stands for a word as well. The bracelets are located in two art boutiques in Sherwood Oregon: Blue Plume Studio and Creative Sister.
Also, they are available online at: https://squareup.com/store/lidabracelets/
Through painting the mural, putting on art classes, and hosting the fundraiser, I have learned so much about myself and the world outside my window. I want to thank my family, Ms. Scott, Mr. Rodolph, Dawne Camera, and Jen Harlow, for supporting me and my dream of helping others through art. I have no doubt that my journey will revolve around helping underprivileged children discover their originality and voice through art. -Karly Bierma