Kid Idols! Cliffanie Forrester’s Art at the Met
“Who just completed their life goal at 18? Me.” That’s a tweet posted by Cliffanie Forrester, one of the youngest living artists to have her work displayed at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Her painting is entitled, simply, “Uganda” and it beautifully captures a child gazing out on the horizon as if she’s looking forward to something wonderful. Cliffanie’s simple, happy statement quickly went viral.
The Brooklyn-based student of Manhattan’s High School of Art & Design was inspired to paint the portrait from a photo she took of a contemplative little girl in a white dress while she was on a trip to Uganda a few years back. Cliffanie’s teacher Maria Jimenez encouraged her to enter the painting into P.S. Art, a program that exhibits the best work from students across NYC at the Met. It got in! (She’s one of 11 seniors whose work was featured.)
Not only was the stunning painting selected for display, but the teen won a $1,000 scholarship for it. Cliffanie later added to her Twitter followers, “People think I'm stopping here bc I achieved my ultimate goal... Lol, I'm getting another piece in the MET one day & nothing will stop me.” Well, that’s good. You don’t want to peak too early!
Cliffanie is still riding the wave of accolades. Her painting, by way of Twitter, has been viewed by at least 3 million people worldwide since last June, which is nearly half the number of people who went to the Met in an entire year!
Cliffanie loves portraiture and she will continue to focus on that… but she’s open to anything. Inspired mainly by the works of Degas, she said in an interview with Fusion, “Degas [did] many different concentrations in his lifetime. He went from ballerinas to still life—that helped me relax and see how I could try different things and change focus later on.”
Her advice to other young artists out there, particularly kids of color, is “don’t be discouraged. And when you’re discouraged, always stay true to who you are. Also, don’t compare yourself to other artists — I used to do that when I was a junior or sophomore. I would spend time comparing myself, like, ‘Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I do this?’ But it just takes determination to achieve those goals you want. You can do and be anything you want to.”
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