Teenager’s artistic expression finds spiritual meaning

| Christina Capecchi | November 7, 2013 | 0 Comments
Convent of the Visitation senior Emily Dinsmore created the banner to illustrate the school’s theme for the current schoolyear, “Joyful optimism.”

Convent of the Visitation senior Emily Dinsmore created the banner to illustrate the school’s theme for the current schoolyear, “Joyful optimism.”

An Eagan teenager created the art that illustrates her high school’s 2013-2014 theme.

Emily Dinsmore, 17, a senior at the Convent of the Visitation High School in Mendota Heights, has long been interested in art, though she didn’t take a formal drawing class until last year. “My art is a way to express myself and put emotions onto a page in a way that words have always failed me,” Dinsmore said.

Emily Dinsmore

Emily Dinsmore

She was thrilled when her art teacher invited her to create a banner illustrating the virtue being spotlighted in the 2013-2014 school year: joyful optimism. The happy, hopeful mode was embodied by the French saint Francis de Sales and his friend, St. Jane de Chantal, who together founded the Visitation order of nuns four centuries ago. Dinsmore’s charge was to make it relevant today.

It took her a while to land on a concrete expression of joyful optimism, but inspiration struck one weeknight after a study session at her friend’s house. It was dusk, and the two girls walked to the park and sat on the swings, letting the fresh air wash over them as they chatted.

“In that time on the swings, I forgot about the stresses of testing and homework and just enjoyed the moment with one of my best friends,” Dinsmore said. “For me, joyful optimism is being able to enjoy every moment, especially the little things, knowing that worry does not make the future better. God will always be there providing for the present and future.”

Then she set to painting, using acrylics borrowed from school and working in her grandparents’ basement. She played music from Spotify as she filled the huge canvas, alternating from pop tunes to Gaelic folk music to praise-and-worship songs and occasionally breaking out in dance.

The image that emerged alluded to her evening at the park: the silhouette of two girls swinging, cast against a blazing orange sunset. After five days, the banner was complete.

It now hangs above a central staircase at Visitation, urging all the students, faculty and staff to embrace the virtue of joyful optimism as they go about their days. It was a creative triumph for Dinsmore, who has also enjoyed the artistry of being on Visitation’s theater crew. She praised Elliott Hays, the technical director. “Besides teaching me how to use a drill, weave a basket, paint things to look like cement, stucco a fake house, use and fix a band saw and go crazy with paint and feather dusters, Elliott has taught me to trust myself, to trust that, no matter how many mistakes I make or how frustrated I get, I will come out on top. He showed me that something small, like an idea, can be turned into a production that’s larger than life.”

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Category: Next Gen