PRAIRIEVILLE — This summer, Jared Payne, 9, was unexpectedly given the honor of cutting the blue ribbon to officially open an art exhibit in Washington, D.C., one that included his pastel of a Louisiana sunset.
Jared, a fourth-grader at Oak Grove Primary in Prairieville, thinks the honor was handed to him because of the handsome new suit he was wearing for the occasion.
But it could have been his remarkable self-possession and his happiness to talk about what he likes to do best.
“I love to draw,” Jared said.
“All Kids Can Create,” the national children’s art exhibition that Jared participated in, was on display in August at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. It will be traveling to CVS Caremark’s corporate headquarters in Woonsocket, R.I., and to other CVS locations.
The exhibit was the result of a partnership between VSA, an affiliate of the Kennedy Center and an international organization on arts and disability, and CVS Caremark All Kids Can, a program that supports nonprofit groups that help children with disabilities succeed in life.
Each state and the District of Columbia were represented in the exhibit by two student artists, chosen by a jury of art educators from more than 3,000 entries, according to All Kids Can Create literature.
The artists include children and youth, ages 5 to 15, with disabilities and those without disabilities.
In addition to Jared, the other Louisiana student whose art was selected was identified by the program as a 15-year-old from West Monroe.
The goal of the All Kids Can Create art exhibit is to “provide an increased public awareness of the positive impact the arts can have in the lives and learning of young people of all abilities,” according to a news release on the exhibit.
The theme for the young artists, in preparing their works, was “What Inspires Me.”
Jared is in the talented art program at Oak Grove Primary and takes a weekly art class with Dana Mosby, the teacher of the visually talented with the Ascension Parish School Board.
“His memory for art vocabulary and how to use different art materials is excellent,” Mosby said.
“In My Mommy’s Eyes” is the name of his exhibit artwork. It’s a peaceful landscape of trees by a body of water, backed by a softly glowing sunset.
Jared said he made the art in honor of his mother, LaQuanta Payne, who is in treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood.
“I made it ‘In My Mommy’s Eyes’ because every day when the sun goes down, my mom stares at the sun a little bit, because when she’s doing that, she feels no pain,” Jared said.
“She usually stands right there in the kitchen by the window” to see the sunset, Jared said in his Prairieville home recently.
“It does soothe me,” his mother said. “With God’s help, we’re going to get through this.”
Jared used the manmade lake that’s behind his home as the model for the water scene that appears in his art, he said.
He met other children from across the country, when he was in Washington, D.C., for the opening of the exhibit in early August, and made two good friends, one from Texas and one from Indiana, he said.
“I think art is a way for people with disabilities to use ... to express yourself and show that you can do anything,” Jared said.
“Anything is possible,” he said.
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