Jasmine Johnson is the Gulliver Prep nominee for the Silver Knight in the Art category. She has been studying art since she was an eighth grader and now, as a senior, she’s taking the Higher Level Art class in the International Baccalaureate program.
As an artist, Johnson says she prefers to work with traditional methods. She uses oil paints and paints on wood. However, lately she has been using Sharpies on cardboard and mixing in acrylic paint.
Her favorite subjects to paint are her three little cousins.
“I didn’t really start painting people until last year,” Johnson says. “I’ve always been involved with art; it’s just a part of what I do, ever since I was a little kid.”
What she likes about her art class is that the students can explore every type of art imaginable.
“We can do anything; the doors are open and it’s limitless,” she says. “Friends of mine do ceramic pieces, others work with fabric, it’s open.”
Instead of using a canvas, Johnson will often tear off a piece of an old cardboard box and start painting.
“It’s personal to me because I paint my cousins,” she says. “Especially in some pieces where I show their expression. There’s a whole process of going through it and putting in the countless hours and days.”
Some artists take months to finish a painting. Johnson says even though she’s really big on detail, painting a face will only take her five or six hours.
“I think it’s all about the artist; for me, when I start a piece, I have the finished product in my head,” she says. “I’m so excited, not to get it done, but to reach the picture on my head and put it on the canvas.”
When she’s not creating art, Johnson is involved with clubs at school. She is a member of the Gulliver Prep Honor Council. Members review cases of cheating and plagiarism. As a group, council members will listen to the student accused of cheating and offer counsel to them on how to avoid the situation in the future.
“We review whether we think they are guilty of cheating or whether it was a coincidence,” she says. “Our recommendation is handed off to the administration.”
That recommendation could be for punishment or leniency.
Johnson is also in the National Honor Society, the Japanese Honor Society and the Environmental Club. Because of her interest in the environment, she volunteered at the Montgomery Botanical Garden, cataloging plants for the garden. She worked there over the summer, but couldn’t continue when school started because of scheduling problems.
Outside of school, Johnson volunteers to work with children who have special needs.
“I got involved with it last year,” she says. “For two hours every other Sunday, we meet with kids who have special needs. We play with these kids, not only giving children an outlet outside of their home, but also giving their parents a reprieve for two hours.”
The visits involve getting the kids moving and cooking.
“We’ll make fun food projects. It’s all about interacting with the kids, helping them reach out,” she says. “It’s unlike any other community service I’ve ever done.”
Johnson has been accepted into the University of Florida and the University of Miami. She has also applied to the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Wake Forest and Emory.
“I’ve always been interested in medicine, particularly biology,”
she says. She hopes to be able to combine her passion for art, medicine and Japanese into her college curriculum.
— By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld
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