Joslyn’s Kent Bellows Mentoring Program (KBMP) provides studio space and artistic mentorship to over 80 teens in the Omaha area. Three semesters per year, high school students in the after school program are paired with professional artists to gain technical skills, explore their creative vision, and make art. KBMP is currently in its tenth year and has an immense presence and impact in our community and on the students that participate in the program.
Divine is a junior at Burke High School and has been a mentee at the Kent Bellows Mentoring Program since the summer of 2016. She initially enrolled in the ceramics program, but due to the interdisciplinary environment in our studio, she soon became interested in painting as well. She started to move between the two mediums—for example, after completing a clay cup she would then shift to canvas and experiment with painting. A self-proclaimed “beginner,” Divine patiently began figuring out the secrets of portrait painting day after day. Her personal ambition, along with guidance from her mentors, helped her focus and power through the typical setbacks that all painters face, such as trying to capture a subject realistically while still expressing a personal style. After fifteen weeks of hard work (and audible complaining), Divine was successfully able to recreate her inner vision on canvas. At the end of her first semester at KBMP, Divine had completed a series of ceramic cups and several painted portraits. She expressed this sense of accomplishment in a glowing smile that lit up the studio for days—a glow that got even brighter when she sold her first piece in the young artist exhibition.
Divine’s love affair with ceramics and painting didn’t last long however, as she was hungry to tackle a new medium. She had her sights set on fashion, and with help from her new mentor, Buf, Divine began her fashion obsession. She experimented with wax canvas and spandex, and created several different designs before settling on a pair of skirts with pronounced zipper lines. At the end of the fall 2016 semester she got her first taste of the fashion glitz and glamour when she showed these looks on the runway at the KBMP Teen Salon to an applauding audience.
This spring, Divine prepared three new looks over the course of a month for Omaha Fashion Week’s student night on February 21 at the Omaha Design Center, a premier fashion showcase venue. Her work lit up the runway, reaffirming her creative spirit and passion for art.
Since becoming a mentee at KBMP, Divine has shown that she embraces her natural artist within. She is open to learning new things, meeting new people, and cultivating a skillset not limited to one medium or process. In describing the breadth of possibilities available for students at the Kent Bellows Studio she says, “As an artist it is nice to know there is a place out there for me to enhance my artistic skills with all the different arts under one roof and in one area.”
Additionally, she has grown to understand the great communicative and expressive power that the arts play in her own life and for others. In her own words, “We are all a little different and have gone through great times and dark times. We don’t always necessarily wear those on our skin or on our faces, but those things make us who we are. We may come from different cultures and places but that doesn’t mean we can’t understand each other.”
Student performance of fashion, music, and media art starts at 7 pm and is free to general public.
Kent Bellows Mentoring Program Director