Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jaime Phillips Winton (the phone call)

finding voice in the second grade (2014)

Jaime was (is) good at math and science. Those subjects were reasonable to her. She was so proficient in those two areas that in 1994 she was invited to attend the Mississippi Math and Science School in Columbus. It wasn't like everyone at our local high school was invited to attend. It was a big deal, and, of course, her parents were elated. Sure their only child would be leaving home early, but the opportunity Jaime had to be challenged by a school in subject areas with surefire means of getting a solid career one day in engineering or the medical field had to be something for which they responded, Where do we sign up?

She agrees. It was a great school. I have to give it to them. she says. They had this incredible humanities program where we got to study many different mediums. There is this excitement in her voice that conjures sunlight coming through windows and long tables and easels and the coolest art teacher with a Guess what we're gonna do today! class theme. This is much like we now have in our local school, but when Jaime was a kid art class was an extra bonus type thing where your parents had to have surplus money to send you to camp or class outside of a government sponsored public education system. In the mid to late eighties and early nineties core subjects (STEM as they are called now) were accompanied by typing and home economics and athletics and band. Jaime was taught art by a lady named Margaret Evans.

Here we'll interject.

In the discovery process of this art show Margaret Evans' name has been mentioned many times. That lady's ears must be burning. She did not only inspire Jaime, Mrs. Evans was instrumental in teaching art to most any child in the county at that time. A local inspiration, we'll say, and she's still at it.

I'm sure Jaime's Mom spent at least one moment thinking, Why in the world did I send that kid to Margaret Evans' art camp that summer between third and fourth grade? when Jaime would call home and say, You should see what we're doing in art class. This teacher….This canvas….We screen printed…

I'm almost just as certain that Jaime's Mom would smile as I type

No matter what Jaime followed her heart.

Her degree from the University of Mississippi in 2000 is titled "Art with Design Journalism".

I love that title and ask Jaime, What advice would you give today's art students?

I would tell them everyone has a voice and that the pulpit is not the only place to have a mission. It took me a long time to trust what it was I wanted to create. What I know is that there are many ways to minister, honor God's creation and friends and family and you can do it through art.

The first time Jaime ever showed her work publicly was because her church in Memphis wanted to know if there was anything she would donate for the youth fundraiser. She was going out of town, escaping having to publicly stand by her work. She gave them some of her art and ran away.

Then they liked it.

Then a whole community of creativity opened up to her.

In 2006 D'Edge Art & Unique Treasures featured her work in a show.

It was awful, she admits then laughs. I mean in retrospect it was great because people had actually driven miles and there were people there that I didn't know and didn't know my Mom and they came to see my work. I had my make-up done that day and I never did that and I looked like a raccoon and I sweated and thought I would have a heart attack and I needed it. There is something about the confidence booster you receive from having people publicly like your work.

She won't say she's an old hand at it now, but since 2006 she has been featured again and again at D'Edge and through her church and at Memphis Botanic Gardens while also finding time to work with other artists in the Memphis Empty Bowls Project. Though much of her time now is consumed by her two daughters (don't get me started about those two and how they are one of my favorite things about the internet) and being a partner to her husband (the two have been best friends since the days of Math and Science School), her work (mostly commissioned) is being done in a studio upstairs when the kids are asleep.

And yes, there are still times (some of her favorite) when she begins with the typeface of a thought, a saying, a focus and from there come the acrylics and modeling paste and pumice stone and so much more to now be featured in the place she first discovered art next to the works of the woman who first inspired her.

Well. Not now.
It's going to happen on November 8th.

Today I am grateful for art education.
Today I am grateful for Jaime's work.

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