by Abby McDowell, STAFF WRITER
19 April 2018
“Isolation.” Digital Photography, Photoshop. 36”x 17.5”. “This piece was created in collaboration with the AP Seminar classroom for our Black Lives Matter gallery. The research prompt I received was centered around the idea of police brutality, and a clear division between the oppressed and the oppressors,” Rousseau said. Photo courtesy of Reese Rousseau.
As a young kid, senior Reese Rousseau was creative to say the very least. He spent endless hours in his high chair being given crayons and markers, practically any tool he could scribble with. On his second birthday, he was given his first set of colored pencils, and the grin that accompanied these pencils was one of a child that was meant to be an artist.
Over the years, Reese has lived up to the notion that he was, in fact, born to create art. He has competed in prestigious art competitions, been granted scholarships based off of his portfolio, and has had his art tour the country in museums and galleries. Reese himself has attributed his success to his inherent love of creating.
“Due to some medical conditions, I wasn’t able to participate in most sports like lots of the other kids my age at the time. I found other things to occupy my time, and the thing that really seemed to stick was drawing,” Reese said. “I don’t think I have always been talented, it has just been years of practice and love for creating.”
This love for creating has also given Reese an outlet for external stresses he may endure; however, it can also be a source of frustration for him.
“Sometimes sitting down and working on a piece for hours on end is incredibly relaxing and something that I can do to unwind,” Reese said. “Other times it can be very frustrating when the image on the page or screen doesn’t match with what I had envisioned.”
This frustration is what can come along with creating his pieces. Reese often doubts his abilities as an artist.
“I have a terrible habit of being incredibly hard on myself in terms of the quality of my work, I am rarely ever 100% pleased with a piece of work,” Reese said. “This goes for both the creation and publishing of any artwork, I always am afraid that it’s not good enough, or that I made a mistake somewhere.”
Reese’s mother, Nicole Rousseau, sees Reese’s success as evidence of their family’s love for art.
“Our family has always had a love for creating, expressing it in all different ways. Reese was not even a year old when we started introducing him to the arts, we would take him all different kinds of art fairs, galleries, and museums,” Nicole said.
And Nicole said that Reese has the capacity to create anything he wants, she too confirmed that Reese’s self-doubt can be an obstacle for that.
“The biggest obstacle Reese faces with his art is self doubt, looking at something he created and not thinking it is good enough or only seeing the flaws in it. It holds him back sometimes, but he also tries to push through the doubt and improve,” Nicole said.
Although with the help of friends like senior Tristan Davis, Reese is given the reassurance to keep striving for greatness when it comes to his art.
“It took the consistent appreciation of the amazing work he was making to bring him more out of his shell. Of course, he still pretends to be a perfectionist, as all artists do; regardless, I know how much others’ support has helped him feel comfortable with his art,” Tristan said.
Reese’s talents don’t overwhelm his humility. He always believes there is something to improve on, especially the amount of people that are exposed to his artwork.
“I am always trying to improve my technical and conceptual skills, but having the platform to reach a larger audience is something I am always working towards,” Reese said. “I always want to get to share my work with the general public rather than just my circle of friends and followers.”
Tristan said that Reese has something special that will allow him to reach larger audiences in the future.
“Any human can trace a picture or reproduce it from another, but it takes an artist to take advantage of that creativity,” Tristan said. “Reese has that ability to come up with original ideas.”
Reese has had many opportunities to share his work with the public. The Alliance for Young Writers and Artists, an organization that identifies teenagers with exceptional creative talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards has given Reese the opportunity to exhibit his pieces across the country.
“I have been lucky enough to have entered in many competitions and art shows, but some of the most notable and probably what I’m most proud of include the 2 Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Medals,” Reese said.
These gold medals have given Reese the opportunity for exhibition across the nation, and, even at this young age, Nicole and Reese have seen the impact his art has on individuals.
“A few months ago we received an email for a lady we do not know who told us after seeing one of his pieces she could not stop thinking about and how it made her cry because she was so moved by it,” Nicole said. “She took the time to reach out and let us know the impact it had on her. I believe that change starts with one person and that is proof that Reese is already make an impact that I am confident his work will lead to change.”
“A Still Life.” Graphite, Charcoal. 17”x 21”. “This is also part of my concentration. This piece is centered on the issue of gun violence that’s plaguing this country,” Rousseau said. “I want each piece to have an air of controversy and urgency to them. I want people to develop an opinion about this series, to start a conversation, and potentially inspire change.” Photo courtesy of Reese Rousseau.
“Any human can trace a picture or reproduce it from another, but it takes an artist to take advantage of that creativity. Reese has that ability to come up with original ideas.”
— senior Tristan Davis
Reese pauses for a picture with his medals earned at the Scholastic Art Awards. Photo by Nicole Rousseau.
Reese’s plans for the future include going to college and studying graphic design. He plans on continuing to make an impact anyway he can with what he creates.
“I’m planning to go to college and pursue graphic design, and potentially artistic direction. I would like to have the time to work in many areas, and getting a feel for a more independent freelance path, or something a bit more structured like a corporation or firm. I just want to continue creating,” Reese said.
Nicole hopes that Reese will continue with his passion for art in the future. She understands that his art has the ability to promote change and thinks this ability is priceless.
“I hope Reese never loses his passion for the arts and that even in the hard times he will be able to see that there is always a silver lining. I hope he continues to create in whatever way he chooses,” Nicole said. “I know his future will be one that inspires others and makes a change for the better.”
Even through Reese’s abundance of talent, he understands that art is a healthy form of expression, and he encourages anyone who wants to create, to try.
“Art isn’t just for ‘artists.’ Everyone has a voice and an opinion, and visual art can be a way to express that voice. Creative and visual expression isn’t limited to just the people who choose to pursue it as a career, and there is a great value in exploring yourself through a creative medium,” Reese said.
Abby McDowell is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL