Autumn de Forest is a 17 year old artist who has been creating masterpieces since the age of five and has not stopped ever since. On Dec. 7, de Forest came to Marjory Stoneman Douglas to share her creative outlet with other student artists.
De Forest entered the world of art when she walked into her garage and saw her dad staining wood. She decided to join him, which sparked her interest in painting and and realization that it was her true passion.
“I do large-scale paintings, a lot of it is abstract expressionism, surrealism,” de Forest said.
As her skills improved, de Forest’s work gained recognition as she encountered many opportunities to expand her talent. She has been able to work with Michelle Obama on the president’s committee and Arts and Humanities along with being able to work with students all around the world. She also created a painting for Pope Francis and had some of her pieces displayed at Art Basel in Miami Florida.
“Ive been able to go to underprivileged schools across the country and work with kids in really bad areas and it’s remarkable just seeing how they’re able to create artwork right then and there and they’re able to express themselves just with colors,” de Forest said.
De Forest was inspired to visit Parkland after seeing the impact students at MSD have made on young individuals to stand up for what they believe in.
“I think that this school has really been an example to many kids, that this is our time as young people. This has shown that young people have a voice, now more than ever, and we have to take advantage of that time,” de Forest said.
When she saw other activists, such as students from MSD, creating a movement towards change through their own expressive outlets, de Forest wanted to join in and keep the activism alive through art to help others voice their thoughts through creativity.
“I’m an artist, I share my message through my artwork and I believe that there is so much greatness in this very school and if students can share their message through an outlet that they’re passionate about then nobody can stop them,” de Forest said.
During de Forest’s visit to MSD, students from art teacher Jacquelene Lieberman’s class participated in an activity where they had a picture of them taken individually on an app that was simplified the photo into black lines. The simplified portrait was then projected and traced with sharpie onto a canvas where the students could add paint however they desired. She felt that this project allowed students to let their creativity flow while making a keepsake to take home.
Students like Olivia Feller found working with a professional to be a very unique experience. Some students even learned new techniques from de Forest.
“She showed me a technique that I’d never really seen before. It was really cool to be able to see and try a new way of painting, especially with a professional there for help us,” senior Olivia Feller said.
De Forest is an art phenom that, along with a passion for painting, carries a passion for young activism in society. The workshop was an opportunity for her to share her ideas of activism with a school that she is immensely inspired by while meeting students that she feels have recently had a powerful impact in the political realm. The students concurrently had the opportunity of working with a skilled artist and learning from her skills.