"I'm just a girl who pursued her love of painting."
Autumn de Forest
Autumn de Forest
It is a rare distinction for a 14-year-old to be given a solo museum exhibition, but such is the case for the Las Vegas based painter Autumn de Forest. About whom the Butler Institute of American Art’s director, Louis Zona, has said “Autumn de Forest is by any measure, a child prodigy.”
De Forest made her first painting, Equator (see above) when she was five.
As she told Key Magazine’s Bailey Powell “What really happened was one day in my late five I went out and I found my dad in the garage staining some wood because sometimes he makes furniture for the house. I said, “Could I experiment a little bit?” And he said sure, so I experimented and realized that it’s so fun! You can express yourself, you can use your imagination, and in just that little time I wanted to change the world for the better. After that wonderful experience I thought, how about painting?”
Her father was impressed with his daughters first effort.
As told the Tampa Bay Times’ "It was simple, but I felt, profound. It looked like a Rothko."
Along with his wife, they nurtured their only child’s talent giving her museum quality materials and a steady supply of art books. Within a year de Forest rewarded their indulgence with an art-in-the-park exhibition. Others were impressed with her talent and by the time she was eleven her father estimates she had grossed over a million dollars.
As she explained to the Daily Beast “I started out letting the paintbrush guide me, seeing what popped up in my head or seeing what I could create just by jumping into it. Then, as I had more experience and did more research, I realized I loved taking classic paintings and throwing in some of my personality and making it my own.”
The inevitable celebrity status that followed has seen de Forest appear on television, speak at Harvard University and be commissioned by Disney to create a series of Disney Princess paintings amongst other accolades. And throughout it all she has displayed a maturity and humility beyond her years.
As she explained to teenswannaknow.com “One thing I have learned is the empowering nature of creativity. It has enabled me to help others and to express my ideas. I can tell you it is a privilege to have people listen to my ideas. I am just a little girl on a big world but through people listening, it has made me hopeful that I might do some good.”
Her current exhibition Autumn de Forest: The Tradition Continues is on show at Ohio’s Butler Institute of American Art until the 26th of June.