Editor's note: The original story stated Coffee's work would be featured in the White House. That is incorrect. It will actually be featured in the U.S. Capitol Building.
Newton High School (NHS) senior Demetria Coffee, who won first prize in the 2016 Congressional Art Competition, now has artwork hanging in the White House.
Coffee initially got into art at an extremely young age.
“That was a very long time ago,” Coffee said of her start in art. “I started at two years old, basically I had this inkling or this notion in kindergarten, when this art teacher came up and explained some of her pieces in different art, and that sparked an interest in me which convinced me I really want to do this.”
The young artist also said she wanted to do art but was initially nervous until she found herself picking up pencils and drawing to convey her feelings.
“At two years old you are suppose to be able to talk, but because I was born premature and I wasn’t able to communicate to my parents, I would use art to do so,” she said.
Although Coffee was born premature, she did not let that stop her from accomplishing her dreams. She is a straight -A student, has a 3.5GPA, and currently has a scholarship to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in the fall.
Coffee also spoke about her artwork entitled “Depression,” which won her the contest and explained the inspiration behind it.
“The inspiration behind that particular piece was, people go through things in life, and sometimes life is just hard on you, and you don’t know how to express how you feel to your family or anyone,” she said. “And for me art was my way of expressing how I felt, especially during those hard times.”
The piece “Depression” was illustrated with colors of blue. It depicted a woman in the middle of the ocean during a storm, the woman is trying to swim to the surface, but she has shackles holding her down underneath, not allowing her to break free.
Coffee also expressed her excitement about having her artwork in the U.S. Capitol.
“I felt exhilarated!” she said. “And I feel this is a great experience for me.”
When it comes to how Coffee wants to pursue art in the future, she has a mapped out goal.
“I would like to do more art in animation, I have a couple of ideas I would like to do. Like, sadness, overcoming obstacles. But for career I would definitely love to become an animator and illustrate my characters in different worlds.” she said.
The artist also said how nervous she was when she met U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson after giving her speech.
“I was a little bit nervous, but what helped me was to realize that he is human as well, and once I did that I was able to relax,” she said.
Coffee knows she is not the only artist out there and as individual artists there are more people out there that are better or more talented, and have a different style. She also has words of encouragement for aspiring artists.
“The biggest thing is never give up on your dreams, especially when you have other artist out there who is more dynamic in their art work.” She said. “Keep practicing because I didn’t one day pick up a pencil and then started off drawing like Picasso. I pretty much drew every day; I spent several hours practicing my drawing. Keep practicing.”