The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Student Art Spotlight: Evelyn Johns

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Johns
Evelyn Johns, a WCHS sophomore, has been creating art all her life, and recently had her art exhibited at a gallery in Washignton D.C. The exhibit helped Johns to sell three of her paintings, and she is now painting a mural for a new resturant in Rockville.

When her paintings feel like pages ripped straight from a storybook, is it any surprise that she has already made her artistic debut? WCHS sophomore Evelyn Johns has been creating art her entire life, and it shows. A member of WCHS’s art program and an intern at Glen Echo Park, Johns has spent her high school career preparing for her entrance into the art world. This year Johns managed just that, beginning her art career with an exhibition of her paintings at Artomatic in Washington D.C.

“Just being an exhibitor at Artomatic was nice because a lot of accomplished artists shared that floor with me,” Johns said. “ Aside from exhibiting for the first time, what was helpful for me was getting to know the other artists, beyond just making connections. I talked to the people that were on volunteer shifts with me and I realized that there are ways that you can do art, even if you don’t necessarily become an artist.”

Artomatic has been run by artists and supporting artists in the DMV area since 1999. The organization finds buildings that are about to be demolished or gutted and hosts an art gallery there. The gallery is then operated entirely by the volunteer work of artists whose pieces are displayed there. Johns’ exhibit was located on the fifth floor of the Artomatic Gallery, where she has sold three paintings. However, the journey Johns took to get to her first gallery exhibition begins with her art.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make art,” Johns said. “I was probably drawing on the walls of my mother’s womb. Ever since then, art has been a tool for me to express how I see the world and tell my stories. [Art] has always been a part of my identity that I could rely on. I’ll always know that part of me.”

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Johns has a passionate relationship to her art and that intensity shines through her pieces. She has captured that ability to create technically impressive art that resonates with her audience. Her dedication to storytelling adds another dimension to her art, shaping an entirely new world for her audience to discover. In her main series of paintings, she explores that idea quite literally.

“There’s always that fear of the end, because of the world exploding in a nuclear war, or global warming or whatever scares you,” Johns said. “I want to talk about a world after that happens, like a new start where nature and humans live in harmony. The stereotypical post-apocalyptic worlds with barren landscapes and radioactive mutants didn’t really appeal to me. I was intrigued by the different human relationships with nature. I wondered if nature and humans could finally, truly coexist if we started over. Mostly, I wanted my paintings to depict people coping with hard situations, resilience and hope for the future, even if the world ends.”

Johns’ artwork somehow manages to convert such an intensely science-fiction concept like a post-apocalyptic world into a soft pastel story, almost like a fairytale. However, at the heart of her work, behind beautiful brushstrokes and curious concepts, lies a deep appreciation for humanity and the stories that define humanity.

Johns’ first installment in her main series “Late Morning,” illustrates the story of a young girl and boy, living with an apple tree that has grown inside their home. She exhibited “Late Morning” at Artomatic where it was purchased for $500. Since Artomatic closed its doors, Johns has been riding the momentum of her burgeoning art career all the way to a brand-new project.

“[The project] is going to be big,” Johns said. “It’s like nine by two feet. It’s about a local restaurant’s journey. The mural is supposed to be about the restaurant owner’s experience as an immigrant and what it’s like bringing part of her culture here. It’s also about how the restaurant is giving back to its community, like by offering jobs to immigrants who might have trouble getting them because they don’t speak English very well.”

Johns has been commissioned to create a mural for a local Chinese restaurant called JinLan WenHua, which will be opening in the North Bethesda area. The painting is meant to tell the story of the restaurant owner and her experience as an immigrant in America, cooking Chinese cuisine. Johns paints her imagination into reality with bold strokes and vibrant colors, and in the future, she plans to keep on doing that as a professional artist. Her enjoyment for storytelling does not just stop at her ideas; Johns also wants to magnify other people’s stories.

“My imagination and art are my most prized possessions and best tools,” Johns said. “Art has always been like an old friend to me, I’ve known it my whole life. And to me, there is nothing more important about art than the story behind it.”

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About the Contributor
Dehab Deglel
Dehab Deglel, Promotions & Subscriptions Manager
Dehab Deglel is a sophomore at WCHS and is the Promotions Manager for her second year taking journalism. This school year she is excited to develop her writing skills further and meet new people. When outside of school, Dehab likes to read, go on long walks, and play video games with her family.

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