By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
Nicolann Jeremie is putting the finishing touches on her massive mural in the art room at North Attleborough High School—and she’s never taken a class there before.
Jeremie, a rising junior at NAHS, has been painting since she was 7 years old and is largely self-taught. One day, she created some sketches inspired by famous painters such as Monet, Picasso, and Hokusai. Her friends encouraged her to speak with art teacher Christopher Flanagan, who suggested she paint it—on the wall of his classroom. Jeremie’s never taken Flanagan’s class due to schedule conflicts in her freshman and sophomore years, but hopes to as a junior.
“It was a tough year for everybody,” said Flanagan. “To have that glimmer of hope that art gives you and to brighten the room, why not? That’s what the art room is about, it’s a ‘why not?’ room.”
The mural is an amalgam of sorts, recreating works like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” Claude Monet’s “Water Lillies,” and Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa,” blending them together and adding her own unique elements. All told, the mural measures 23 feet by seven. Jeremie said it’s by far the largest work she’s ever done.
“I’ve painted a lot, but never a wall,” she said with a laugh.
Though Jeremie had a sketch, there was no exact plan for the mural, and as she worked on it more details came to her. She began with “Starry Night” and “The Scream” and continued with other iconic works that had a similar color scheme. While she referenced these works, her own interpretation didn’t match them exactly and each one stands well on its own.
“I like adding different colors that people can’t normally see in the paintings,” she said. “I don’t like blending. It kind of works with the way I glob colors together in the hopes that it looks good.”
Work on the mural began last May, and Jeremie has a bit left to do on the Monet portion. She’s a little sad that the project is nearing completion, and enjoyed coming into the classroom during her Silent Learning Period for an hour and a half every other day to work on it. The mural has been a good learning opportunity, as Jeremie said she struggled in the past with making references exact.
“I learned that I like larger projects rather than smaller ones,” she said.
Flanagan said he was very impressed with the collaboration and that she took feedback and suggestions well. Many of his students have commented on the mural and are surprised to learn that one person made it. The class has done paintings and murals for the school before, but Flanagan said this was the first time a student has done such a project on their own.
“It’s good that it’s been taken out of the school and into the hallways,” he said. “We’re very hopeful that the art will take over the school.”
Looking ahead, Jeremie plans to work with the NAHS Beautifying, Enhancing, Art, and Recycling (BEAR) Club, which was formed this year with the goal of beautifying the school. She’ll be making a smaller mural in one of the bathrooms with a mint green/gray color scheme and floral design. Much of her family is artistic in one way or another. Her brother plays the piano and her parents are talented singers and dancers. Her mother owns an artistic cake business called Natif Natal.
“I’m still finding my footing (as an artist),” she said. “It’s changed a lot, because I’m inconsistent when I paint. It’s whatever I like I to go with.”