Last updated 6/23/2021 at 3:36pm
Last Friday, I was talking to local Rosenwald resident, Altha Gordon, who was visiting her family in New Mexico. Altha was sorry to be missing the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Mary C. Jenkins Community Center.
"The community is ready for it," she said. "Sorry I'm going to miss it, but I'm enjoying myself in New Mexico right now with my daughter and granddaughter."
Altha only had to mention her granddaughter Lauryn's artistic and academic talent and I was excited to have a conversation with this young lady and share her talent with you.What follows is my interview with 17-year-old Lauryn Mills-Bohannon:
"I was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, but have lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, since I was 3 years old. I'm currently a senior at Sandia High School in Albuquerque. Even though I've grown up so far from the rest of my family in North Carolina, I have always felt connected to Brevard and the Rosenwald Community through my grandmother, Altha Gordon.
"I have always been interested in art since I was a toddler. When I moved to New Mexico, my mom started teaching me how to draw faces, and I took off from there. I am inspired by the cartoon and animation styles of the early 2000s. I used to watch TV channels like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon and was inspired by the exaggerated facial expressions. and I would try to replicate that in my art. As I became more confident and gained proficiency in my art, my style became more realistic. However, I always try to incorporate that early 2000s touch.
"Art has been a huge part of my life, and I can't imagine my life without it, so, it's only natural to me that I continue to pursue it. I currently work as a freelancer, but in the future I hope to pursue a career that would allow me to use my art skills. I plan on majoring in fine art in college, and to later pursue a career in animation, storyboarding or illustrating. That said, I love and plan to continue working on community and social activist art in my community.
"Being an artist is not without its challenges, let alone being a Black female artist. That said, carving out a niche for myself has been something I have enjoyed very much. I know for a fact that I couldn't have gotten as far as I have without the support of my family and community. The name of the game is exposure, so having as many connections and people who are willing to help me grow has meant so much to me.
"I specialize in art that expresses human emotion and the human experience. I really enjoy painting portraits. I love mono-chromatic art, and I especially love shifting people's perspective of what certain colors mean and represent. For example, red is typically viewed as a very aggressive color that is most often associated with anger. In my art, I like to take that expectation and flip it on its head by having red represent grief. That shifting in expectation can really take a person out of their comfort zone. When people aren't expecting something, it's more likely to stick with them and, hopefully, they will think of colors in a new way."
I am no professional, but I found Lauryn's work to be amazing, with beautiful detail, gorgeous color, with an ability to capture and convey expressions very well. What do you think? Any professionals out there willing to weigh in and offer constructive feedback for this young and upcoming artist? Drop me a line and I will pass the information along.
Grandma Altha, contin-ue to enjoy your time with your precious family. Know that the groundbreaking was phenomenal, as was the Juneteenth celebration that followed. You can find photographs and videos on the MCJCC Facebook page from Victor Foster and myself. On Monday this week, a neighbor reported hearing the bulldozers at work down on the Community Center property. So, as promised, actual groundbreaking happened and so it truly has begun.
Lastly, because of rainy weather, the Sunday basketball tournament got postponed until June 27. It will be held at the same time at the Silversteen Memorial Playground. Maybe you will be back, Altha. Safe travels!
Newsworthy items for submission for Rosenwald Community News are welcomed from community members, churches, clubs and groups. If you have an idea for a story or interview for me to capture, please let me know at [email protected] gmail.com or by calling (828) 421-8615.