The green color and second pair of eyes that emerge from her head stick out from the crowd during class changes. The eyes move up and down as she walks.
Visual senior Jackie Cohen wears a frog hat, and sometimes a frog headband, to school almost every day because she “just likes frogs.”
“It was a gift,” Cohen said, referring to her hat. “I think it’s cute, so I’ll wear it every day. If you want to do something that makes you happy, why not?”
Cohen channels her happiness into her art by depicting subjects that bring her joy. She first decided to pursue art while attending Bak Middle School of the Arts’ theatre program. Cohen said that she would draw for hours a day, was able to further her creativity, and ended up switching to the school’s visual arts program in eighth grade.
“When I was actually in the theatre department I realized (it) wasn’t for me,” Cohen said. “I was discouraged from (art) as a child, but then I was like, ‘I would love to become better at this and express myself through visual arts.’ (I am) constantly surrounded by people who love what they’re doing and are doing it. It’s very inspiring to be around so many cool people. It’s motivating.”
Cohen says that she is not only inspired by her appreciation for people, but also by an appreciation for nature. She says she feels her happiest and most at peace in nature, and she incorporates elements from nature into her art.
“I’ll be living and I’ll be like, ‘Look at that cool thing I could paint,’” Cohen said. “When you’re always looking for inspiration, you’re gonna find it.”
Cohen’s art contains depictions of the human body and the human condition which reflects her inspiration and the way she treats those around her and who she is inspired by.
“She’s great to her peers and to the staff here,” visual teacher Scott Armetta said. “She’s a very thoughtful person and very kind. She is clearly connected to the artwork and curious about how it develops. Her use of materials has expanded and just gotten more interesting; the originality has expanded.”
Cohen’s art features vibrant colors, influences of nature, and an array of textures. Some of her pieces feature embroidered elements such as human hearts and blue jays, and others utilize elements of nature such as moss and flower petals. Cohen said she loves working with all mediums, and recently, Cohen founded the school’s Mural Painting Society to expand the mediums she works with.
“When I was a kid, my elementary school was covered in murals,” Cohen said. “When we had the mural painting volunteer opportunities, freshman year before the club began, I was like, ‘This reminds me of that feeling you get as a child,’ and being able to give that to other people is very impactful.”
Cohen’s involvement in her art and community is seen by her peers and closest friends. Visual senior Kyra Kramer works alongside Cohen as an officer of the Mural Painting Society and is able to witness Cohen’s art and creative process first hand.
“(Her creativity) is colorful, expressive, and very from the heart,” Kramer said. “She’s able to get very good emotions and put that into her art. I’ve always felt what she was feeling when she puts it in her art, it’s very easy to understand her intent behind it.”
Although Cohen doesn’t plan to pursue a career in art, she wants to keep expressing herself through it. “I just kind of do whatever I want,” Cohen said. If there is a message she wants to convey or a subject she wants to portray, she’ll do it through her commentary on nature and people.
“(Art) can connect people and send messages without words, everyone speaks different languages, but any person regardless of where they’re from, can look at art and get it,” Cohen said. “You should find the little things to be happy (about) and (find) meaningful. Anyone can express themselves through art.”