Students at St. Charles Community College get the opportunity to showcase their art at the college’s art center. (Alyssa Bailey)
Students at St. Charles Community College get the opportunity to showcase their art at the college’s art center.

Alyssa Bailey

The Meaning of Art

December 18, 2018

Most of us don’t even achieve the goals or dreams that we desire. We settle for less than what we are because it’s the safer option, and we try to be okay with that decision. However, what about the people that try to pursue their dreams? The individuals who strive to make their passion their reality?

Junior Madelyn Birkhead has been doing art for about five years and in that amount of time, she’s realized that she would like to pursue a career in art when she gets to college.

“I was influenced to pursue art based on what I grew up on, as well as the tools I had available. Movies and pop culture really pushed me to do that,” Birkhead said. “I mostly want to go into illustrative drawing but I like to dabble in different medias.”

Art can be a risky and unstable profession that adults frown upon because while pursuing a dream job is unbelievably incredible, dream jobs don’t always pay the bills. However, art students like Madelyn and high school graduate, Chad Bailey, want to be on the path to achieve their passion and turn that into their career.

Bailey is currently attending St. Charles Community College and is trying to get his general education while taking some art classes on the side. He’s also been participating in art shows to showcase his new pieces.

“My media is digital art and my concentration is realism but I would like to go into Sakuga art, which is Japanese animation,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s former art teacher and Birkhead’s current art teacher have implemented their pieces in numerous art shows and score to make their art noticed by others, especially colleges. Art teacher, Mr. Tiemann, has been a big influence for students wanting to pursue a career in art. His contribution has helped a countless number of students find a college and build their career from there.

“I’ve written so many recommendation letters. I’ve also put my students’ work in art shows that will give them scholarships and tuition reimbursement to help them get in to their desired school,” Tiemann said. “I’ve had students who’ve never considered going to college because no one in their family could afford college so they assumed that that was the path they were on, but I’ve put their artwork in shows and one students even got a full ride to Washington University. She was the first one to go to college in her family.”

Bailey has been doing art since he was 5 years old and has been inspired by a variety of artists over the years, including his former best friend.

“When I lived in California, my best friend named Tom really inspired me. He was always better than me and it allowed me to push myself in drawing. After that, I would just continue drawing; I would draw in textbooks, pieces of paper… really just anywhere I could find,” Bailey said. “But I would always go to other artists to see what their tactics were and get some inspiration from them so I could stylize it in my own way. Through watching other artists, it actually helped me improve in my drawing.”

In a similar way, Birkhead has, most recently, been inspired by fashion design artists that evoke an empowering stance on society. These artists have influenced Birkhead to model some of her own art pieces like them, which has brought upon new art styles and techniques.

“I really admire Erte, the fashion artist, and I’ve been getting into Francis Bacon because he does a lot of impressionistic pieces. He did oil paints and smeared them in a way that’s very expressive. I would say my favorite artist, at the moment, is Francis Bacon,” Birkhead said. “My media mainly consists of using markers. My concentration is about women’s empowerment and Erte does a lot of fashion sketches regarding that, and I wanted to incorporate that in my work since fashion is such an exertion of power.”

Tiemann has been teaching for more than 20 years, most of which has been in the city and he’s had the ability to watch his students grow artistically and as people. Some of his former students have shifted their majors upon their college arrival but still want a variation of art in their career and it’s been very encouraging for not only Tiemann but for future students that he has had.

“I give my students direction and support but they have to be the ones to follow through with it so that’s what’s encouraging. It’s not me or other teachers telling them to take initiative, it’s them doing it by themselves,” Tiemann said. “I try to tell all my students that whatever you do in life, make sure there’s a passion you enjoy. You may make money, you may not but as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing, that’s important. It’s really encouraging to see they’re successful with something that they’re passionate about.”

Tiemann’s advice has enabled some students to open art shops and illustrate pictures in children’s books. He’s also been able to keep in touch with these students and learn what they have been up to since high school.

“Seeing students that have continued to pursue art makes me very proud. I saw another one of my former students that I taught drawing to and he’s published three children’s books with all of his artwork. It’s very exciting to see these students getting recognized, as well as opening up their own businesses,” Tiemann said.

When Bailey was still at Liberty, his art teacher encouraged him to gain inspiration by modern and classical artists; it’s enabled him to observe and find a new appreciation for those artists.

“Michelangelo, I think, is the most talented artist from his generation. People say it’s Da Vinci and even though Da Vinci was a savant, he was nowhere near as talented as Michelangelo when it came to painting, drawing, sculpture,” Bailey said. “He used to say, ‘I paint in the eyes of God,’ and I really looked up to him because he would purposely detail the bottom of his sculptures, the part that the audience may never see. It’s undeniable that he was talented.”

Michelangelo’s inspiration has enabled Bailey to build upon his art by pushing him to try new techniques and explore new medias. His remarkable legacy has embedded such an impact in the world of art.

In the same way, Erte and Francis Bacon have made this very impact on Birkhead and has given her the ability to discover different types of medias, as well as what media suits her best. Bacon and Erte have given Birkhead a concentration that’s not only worthwhile but expressive for society.

Art teachers, like Tiemann, have used their experiences to make an impressionistic reality in the eyes of their students. Currently, Birkhead is thinking of being an art teacher and possibly attending Truman when she graduates, while Bailey is planning on going to SCAD: The University for Creative Careers after SCC.

Individuals wanting to pursue a dream job always get beaten down but it’s about the attitude and mentality you have that will make you survive the critics. Madelyn Birkhead and Chad Bailey have accomplished so much and it’s only going to continue from there.

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