Early this spring, Urbana High School junior Amber O’Connor tackled an assignment in her Drawing and Painting III class. The assignment was to create something in shades of black, gray and white. Over the course of three weeks, 16-year-old O’Connor brainstormed and cut newspaper clippings, then crafted her final product “Baby G.”
The inspiration for her piece was some of her best childhood memories — frequent weekend trips with her family to the Washington Zoo.
“My dad would take me to the giraffe house where I would sit on his shoulders and admire them. My favorite giraffe was a baby, whom I named Baby G and would look forward to seeing each time we visited,” O’Connor said. “The days I would visit the Washington Zoo are some of the best memories I have.”
But there was a specific zoo visit that provoked her piece — a day that O’Connor said is forever etched in her mind.
“One day when we went to the zoo, I discovered that zoo officials transferred my baby giraffe to another zoo. I was heartbroken. I would never see my Baby G again. I was young and couldn’t understand why they would do such a thing,” she said. “This inspired me to put words relating to home, family, and challenges one must overcome in their home in the background of my piece.”
O’Connor’s newspaper collage (shown below) depicts the unique qualities of a giraffe. “Their long neck and tall legs make them unique and unlike any other creature,” she said. She also incorporates through the background, the message relating to family. She completed this project on April 11.
Since childhood, O’Connor has creating a collection of giraffe things in her room — trinkets, stuffed animals and photographs. Art is something O’Connor has pursued since childhood, as well. Every year since sixth grade, she’s also selected art as an elective.
“The medium I enjoy the most is watercolor. I like the way watercolor blends and how there are so many techniques that can be used,” she said.
As for the future, O’Connor plans to take art her senior year and to continue to pursue art in her leisure time.
“Art will always be one of my favorite ways to relax and spend my free time. Art has certainly taught me to use my creativity and to think outside the box,” she said.