Autumn de Forest inspires people to do great things, young and old

 In Art & Gallery News, Articles, Artists & Special Collections, Autumn de Forest, Philanthropy
Autumn de Forest Turnaround Arts

Students watch carefully as Autumn shows them some painting techniques. (Photo credit: Doug de Forest)

Despite her young age, art prodigy Autumn de Forest, 14, understands and embraces her role as an inspiration to young artists across the globe.

Autumn received the Giuseppe Sciacca International Vatican Award in Painting and Art on November 7, 2015. The award, which was bestowed upon Autumn when she visited Pontifical Urbana University in Vatican City, recognizes artists under the age of 35 that have shown immense artistic skills, dedication to the betterment of their community, and the ability to become role models and educational examples for children.

“If by inviting me to stand on this pedestal allows me to reach one more young person and encourage them to be creative, I am grateful,” said Autumn during her acceptance speech at the Vatican. “You have given me a voice louder than my own.”

autumn de forest vatican

Autumn de Forest receiving her award from the Vatican for painting and art. (Photo by Doug de Forest)

Autumn received this award not only for her art, but for her desire to merge her creative talents with a profound sense of duty to the global community. In February 2016, Autumn conducted art classes with kids in a low-performing school in San Bernadino, California as a part of the Turnaround Arts program. The organization specializes in using art education in schools that fall in the bottom 5 percent in performance in their respective states.

Turnaround Arts believes that an increased focus on arts in schools will eventually improve overall academic performance. According to the program’s website, participating schools averaged a 22.6 percent improvement in math proficiency and a 12.6 percent improvement in reading proficiency between 2011 and 2014.

UPDATE: Don’t miss Park West Gallery CEO talking about Turnaround Arts and more on Sunday, June 5, on Michigan radio. Click here for more information.

Students at the California school were able to paint self-portraits on canvases provided by the Park West Foundation.

“I’d love to thank Turnaround Arts and the Park West Foundation for getting all the supplies and all the canvases and all the paint,” said Autumn in an interview with T Brand Studio. “Without that, we would not be able to have this happen and just to know that, I am so thankful and so honored to be able to do this.”

In addition to helping the community, one of the biggest benefits Autumn gets out of the program is the ability to inspire young kids. She understands that it’s important to have artists to look up to. She has named Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Tim Burton, Banksy, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe and many more as her influences.

“I love being able to take their works and incorporate them into my own paintings,” said Autumn when asked about her inspirations.

Autumn de Forest butler Museum

Dr. Lou Zona, Director of the Butler Institute of American Art, shows Autumn a painting by one of her ancestors, George de Forest Brush, which resides in the museum’s permanent collection. (Photo credit: Doug de Forest)

At this San Bernadino elementary school, though, Autumn acted as an inspiration for the kids just as the famous artists listed above inspired Autumn herself.

“I just loved it,” said Roberto, 10, of the class that Autumn taught in San Bernadino. “Miss de Forest inspires me.”

Although she is huge inspiration to young people everywhere, Autumn has also inspired older people to do good in the community. She began her charitable efforts at the mere age of 6; she donated several large paintings to Opportunity Village, a charity near her Las Vegas home that aims to help people with intellectual disabilities.

“Autumn brings so much more to this world than her wonderful paintings,” said Jean Perry, Executive Director at Opportunity Village. “She is a blessed soul and shares this with everyone around her.”

In addition to a multitude of other charitable efforts, Autumn created a tribute painting to honor the rebuilding efforts of several charities. She auctioned off the artwork and 100 percent of the proceeds went to the Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund.

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