The value of personal expression is perhaps most richly observed through the eyes of a young artist.
Julia Maher, a Massapequan who enters into her senior year at Farmingdale High School this fall, has been putting color and shape to canvas for as long as she can remember. Coming from a family with deep artistic sensibilities, Maher’s work allows her a greatly needed emotional outlet.
“It has always helped me express myself in ways that other kids couldn’t,” she said. “Even in elementary school. I don’t think I was that good at first, but through school with teachers and fellow artists, I was able to work at it and become a lot better.”
Next school year, Maher will take an advanced placement art class, a college course to help her craft a portfolio. But before building a portfolio, Maher had to build confidence in her work — and that is something she continues to accomplish with support from an artisitic community at school and at home.
“I love talking to other artists. It helps me learn about all different artistic media,” she said. “I have a close friend and he taught me how to use charcoal. I also had a teacher who showed me how to use water colors. And both have expanded my work.”
And those influences have combined to lead Maher’s work into the realm of the dynamic. Her eye-catching water color pieces jump from the canvas, and seem to stare directly at the viewer; specifically, her nameless piece featuring a woman in Middle Eastern garb. It is striking in its explicit nature. Another nameless piece, a charcoal work featuring an ominously lit woman holding a candle, is at once enthralling and terrifying.
In both pieces, Maher has somehow managed to create eyes that seem to dig into the viewer’s soul.
“When the thought hits me right away, that is when my work usually comes out the best,” she said. “But art isn’t always like that. Sometimes it can take a long time for an idea to come together.”
And when those times hit, Maher said it is important for an artist to power through and use inspiration’s slow burn to their advantage.
“There are plenty of times when I don’t think a piece is coming together in the way I want,” she said. “But when I give myself a little time to think about it and I organize my thoughts, my idea develops into something better than expected.”
“An artist shouldn’t rush into things,” she said. “Give it time and don’t give up.”