Oil painter invites audience to create art

Senior Eavan O’Neil reads her poetry at the Garden Cafe on April 17, 2018. Photo by Donald Johnson

Senior Eavan O’Neil prefers not to describe herself as an artist, but that doesn’t mean art isn’t an important part of her life.

“I feel uncomfortable calling myself an artist,” O’Neil said. “It feels like the term is associated with a level of success or expertise that can’t be personally assigned. Instead, I usually just say, ‘I paint.’”

Although O’Neil grew up in a creative household, she was unsure about pursuing visual arts at first. However, during a summer class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), she developed her art process and overcame her intimidation. Now,

O’Neil’s art is commonly displayed in her classes and across school galleries.

O’Neil’s art isn’t just showcased around WGHS, as her works have been exhibited in events like the Second Congressional District and Lindenwood University’s Young Artists and Their Teachers art show. She also directed 15 students in painting the cafeteria’s diversity mural and helped create a flag mural for the Webster Groves Fire Department. Her work inside and outside of the school particularly caught the eye of art teacher Andrew Throm.

In an interview, Throm said that O’Neil “is in the top 1 percent of all students I’ve taught in 24 years.”

O’Neil typically uses oil paint, but she doesn’t limit herself to one medium and constantly experiments. Instead of focusing on an end product, she chooses materials and subjects she’s curious about, and the more time she puts into a project, the more interested she is in experimenting with it. For O’Neil, this process is neither completely stressful or completely calming, but somewhere between the two: invigorating.

“Project breakthroughs are both exhausting and euphoric, a real jumbled mess of emotions, but people wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil hopes her art can reach her audience in a way that allows them to interact with it and inspires them to create in their own ways.

“Art is more accessible than ever, from pop culture to web design, while what is considered ‘fine art’ is often deemed pretentious and thematically incomprehensible,” O’Neil said. “By emphasizing the materials over the depiction, I try to illustrate an invitation to the process behind the end product.”

O’Neil plans to attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) to major in art with a dual emphasis in textiles and painting, then attend grad school for either art therapy or art education.

Sean Mullins – Technology Columnist

This is Sean’s third year on the ECHO, having contributed to the site during journalism class in his sophomore year and becoming a columnist and blogger in his junior year. Sean writes Electric Retrospective, a column dedicated to gaming editorials and reviews, as well as a blog also titled Electric Retrospective that posts news stories and reviews every Tuesday.


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