Student has a dream to create -- and teach
NOTE: This is the first installment of a series of articles on the significance of art education in Bedford County. The stories will feature students with aspirations of future careers in the visual arts, drama and music.
When Jesus (pronounced hay-ZOOS) Fernandez graduates from Shelbyville Central High School next month, he'll be leaving behind an artful legacy.
While finishing his portfolio in Art 4 at the Shelbyville Central High School annex, he explains how he plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro next fall. His major will be art education and his minor in psychology and Spanish. He wants to become more fluent in Spanish so that he can translate between Spanish and English.
What he really wants to do in the future is teach. He says he's truly been inspired by many of his educators while a student at SCHS, but there's one teacher in particular who gets a lot of the credit.
"My teacher, Megan Straub, inspired me to be an art teacher."
The SCHS senior is well-known these days for being the resident school mural artist. He is the student responsible for painting the large SCHS Golden Eagles wings mural.
"This was great. I told Mr. [Tim] Harwell I'd love to."
Under those wings many students and teachers have posed for photos. The art student says he's honored to have his work etched onto the walls of his soon-to-be alma mater.
Jesus is socially involved in the arts as president of the SCHS Art Society and vice president of the Young Artists and Writers Society.
The SCHS senior says his art has been his safe space. Revealing the pages of his prolific portfolio, he adds that he's been creating on canvas and drawing pad for a long time.
"The arts are how I deal with life," he says. "I put myself into my work."
Art teacher Straub adds, "Even if they don't pursue art in college, there's a piece [of the arts] they'll never let go."
Jesus quietly puts the finishing touches on his portfolio in the back studio. The table light shines upon his variation of works-some of a spiritual nature and others of people, places and things-all of them illuminated with strokes of light and life.
Jesus may well be more mature in thought than most his age. It seems to have served him well, now that graduation is in hand.
"I think everyone has to be exposed to art, even though not everyone might have the aptitude to make it a career," the 18-year-old says.