Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

The Art of Nancy West

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

The Art of Nancy West

Article excerpt

For painter Nancy West, finding creative ways to nurture art in children is a passion. For example, she would like to construct what she calls "public art puzzles," or large sculptures for young people.

One of the programs she has developed uses art to reach at-risk children. "We teach kids involved with tagging to do graffiti murals," said Ms. West, who is 44 and has been teaching art since she was 17. "We even did an intergenerational program for children and the adults in their lives, such as their aunts and grandparents. Children love art naturally."

She also offers private art lessons and has taught art to preschoolers in the Austin public schools. "I love it; it's a very interactive program," she said. "I want to instill a love for the visual arts and integrate that into their cur-riculum. Teaching 4-year-olds is awesome. They're little sponges."

When she was 4, Ms. West attended a fine arts preschool. Five years later, she took private oil painting lessons while living in Houston. Growing up, Ms. West won numerous awards for her art, and eventually earned a bachelor of fine arts in studio art from the University of Texas, Austin.

She says her family was originally from Austin but moved around a lot while she was a child.

"I was basically a corporate brat," said Ms. West, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 10, and says her family was always supportive of her art but didn't know what to do for her illness.

She credits Imagine Art, a faith-based gallery chartered with meeting the needs of artists with disabilities, with not only helping her put together a professional portfolio but also propelling her to get treatment for bipolar disorder and also for diabetes. …

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