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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, May 29, 2014 4 years ago

Artist inspires students with Celebrate Africa

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BY ALEXANDRA WARNOCK | CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Internationally known artist Gregory Grant is inspiring his students at Artquest School of Art and Design to think beyond the city limits of Ormond Beach. In his new Celebrate Africa initiative, students focus on the environmental and humanitarian issues of sub-Saharan Africa in their art, which will be put together in an art exhibit.

Grant teaches his students professional painting and drawing techniques or, as he calls it, teaching his students to “see.”

“It’s about learning the nature of things: light, proportion, composition and color, and their contextual integration with random spontaneity,” Grant said.

While he starts his students by learning to copy photographs onto canvases to make realistic landscapes and portraits, his ultimate goal is for students to portray a deeper meaning through their artwork.

“There has to be some intellectual caveat that makes it art,” he said. “So I ask them to look into the proverbial mirror and give me something back that’s unique.”

Grant hopes that the money raised through Celebrate Africa can be donated to foundations for the cause, as well as impacting the student artists themselves.

“Education serves as the most effective tool to battle generations of instability and environmental apathy,” Grant said.

One issue Grant has noticed in his travels is the loss of culture through gentrification. He hopes to preserve the cultural identity of Africans through art and counteract the gentrification.

“They get so gentrified by the West that they leave their own culture behind, and that’s sad because that’s the distinction of a people,” Grant said.

Grant believes the efforts of the initiative will ultimately pay off.

“Children all over the world are capable of great accomplishment when properly inspired and motivated,” Grant said.

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