For Julie Vaughan, art is not a passion she keeps to herself; it is something she shares with everyone, especially her students back in Africa. “I’ve always done art, and what I’ve learned, I’ve taken back to Africa, where my husband and I work at a mission school with kids.”
Vaughan, largely a self-taught artist all her life, took some art classes at Yuba College in 1995, after coming back from Africa. Under the guidance of several accomplished art faculty, she took her artistic talents to new heights. Immersing herself in drawing, sculpture, commercial art and watercolor classes, the Yuba College student produced a stunning portfolio that earned her The Kingsley Art Award this spring.
The scholarship, which carries with it a cash prize of $500, is made by possible by the Kingsley Art Club of Sacramento. The winners are chosen on the basis of their artwork, statement of purpose and transcripts. Judging is done by a group of professional artists and instructors, who are not affiliated with Yuba College in any way.
“I always liked art but I never thought I was good enough to do anything with it,” said Vaughan. I was so surprised to win this scholarship and am deeply humbled by the honor.”
The Kingsley scholarship recipient traced her interest in art to experiences she had when she was younger. “When my older sister was taking anatomy, and I was in junior high, she had me do all her anatomical illustration. My dad was also on his way to art school when he was younger. I loved watching him doing sculpting.”
As for the encouragement she has received from Yuba College art instructors, she smiles and says that their words have contributed much to gaining confidence as an artist. “My classes at Yuba have helped me very much. My art teachers give me advice in a way that is constructive and I’ve learned a lot from them. This has given me a good jump-start in art take back to Africa,” said Vaughan. The Yuba College art student will return to Africa this July with her husband Ken.
“We go to Africa for several years to the Ivory Coast, in West Africa, and then come back here for about a year. We are going back for probably three years,” said Vaughan. We are with a mission organization and work at an interdenominational mission school. There are 250 kids in the school I work at which is called the International Christian Academy.”
Vaughan says she got started in teaching art classes at the school because there weren’t any classes being taught. “I’ve been doing this for four years. It’s neat because I’m also learning from the art of Africa-pottery for example. We have to learn from other cultures. People tend to think of them (Africans) as not high tech or they’re primitive, but they are a wonderfully artistic people.”
The Yuba College art student says that when she goes back to Africa, she takes all the art supplies she can with her because they are hard to come by. “Most everything has to be imported and it takes three hours to get to town. I would be great to get donations of art supplies,” said Vaughan smiling.
Glen Husted, who is an art professor at Yuba College and who has taught Vaughan, has often marveled at her creations. “Julie is a very perceptive lady in a lot of ways. I had her in one of my sculpture classes, and for one of her first projects, she did a beautiful black woman piece,” said Husted.
The Yuba College art instructor added that seven students vied for the art scholarship this year and that competition was close. “Judges came and looked over the work for two-and-a-half hours. All three judges were unanimous in picking Julie. The nice thing about her art package was that she able to voice in her statement letter her interests and needs effectively. Just a fabulous portfolio,” said Husted who added that Yuba College has incredible art students.
Vaughan eventually hopes to get her Bachelor’s and a credential at California State University, Chico in art education, eventually leading to a Master’s degree in non-western art. The Yuba College art students says that she feels blessed being able teach art in Africa to wonderful children and young adults over the years. “I want to help draw out the creativity of each child, to guide students into multi-level art experiences learning to communicate and express themselves through art, as well as to help students see with ‘new’ eyes and appreciate the world around and within them.”
Vaughn added smiling, “I feel like I’m just an ordinary person that has been given the extraordinary privilege to teach art classes in Africa.”