When the new school year first began Sue introduced me to Natalia who was sitting at a table by herself drawing with black marker in her sketchbook. Sue said she was one of the most talented artists in her class. I tried to start a conversation with her, but she didn’t seem interested. I figured it was a teenage thing and left her to her drawing.
Then I started going to Sue’s classroom during lunchtime and teaching whoever was interested how to sew. A couple of weeks into it, Natalia showed up. She was incredibly shy and self-deprecating. She seemed to have little confidence. But she caught on right away, was slow and deliberate, and learned to sew a straight line quicker than anyone else.
Yesterday I was looking at all the drawings and paintings hanging in Sue’s classroom that the kids had done and one of them stood out from the rest. It was done by Natalia who was chosen to enter a drawing in the Congressional Art Challenge of 2022. When I asked her about it she brought me right to her picture, eager to show it to me.
Then she pulled out her sketchbook, the same one she had been drawing in the first time I met her. This time she leafed through the pages finding her favorite drawing to show me.
I asked her about her process and she said she started with a self-portrait then listened to music and drew what she felt.
She was still quiet and shy but didn’t hold back when talking about her work.
When I got home I thought about the first time I met Natalia and how I was too quick to make assumptions about her, it wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk to me about her work, it was that she was too shy to talk about it. Now I’m looking forward to seeing her again the next time I visit Sue’s artroom and talking to her some more.
Natalia is incredibly talented and I think art is going to be an important part of her life.