Sophomore participates in local art exhibit


Students’ artwork at the Decatur Library.

On Dec. 1, the annual art exhibit highlighting artwork from Decatur students began at the Decatur public library. The exhibit features stunning drawings and abstract works created by students in the Decatur art program. 

Wendy Keith-Ott, the art teacher at Decatur, is in charge of the exhibit. Her role includes selecting the artwork and displaying it in the library.

“I look at [the students’ artwork] through the lens of, ‘what would the general public that visits the library enjoy looking at?’” Keith-Ott said.

This year, Keith-Ott noticed how most of the artwork was created by 9th and 10th graders.

“It was very odd because generally, it’s more advanced art students I have,” she said.

However, this didn’t stop her from displaying sophomore Emma Sandler’s artwork.

Sandler has been drawing for most of her life. Until recently, she was entirely self-taught, with the exception of her parents, who studied art in college and gave her pointers along the way.

“My parents have always given me confidence in my art and helped me learn to accept criticism,” Sandler said.

Her inspiration comes from the people she cares about.

“Whether it’s embroidery, a painting or just a silly cartoon, I usually create art with a person in mind,” Sandler said.

She sells many of her works at art festivals and through word-of-mouth. Over the past summer, Sandler attended a week-long seminar at Savannah College of Art and Design, in which she displayed her work at the end of the program. However, this is the first year her work has been shown at the Decatur library.

Sandler’s drawing of a peach pit, shown at the library.

“Having my work showcased at the public library really boosted my confidence,” Sandler said. “It helped me learn to push myself out of my artistic comfort zone and try out new techniques.”

Most of Sandler’s works are of faces, something she believes reflects her style the best. This year though, she is branching out with drawings of still life.

Although she struggled with the process of creating an entirely different form of work, Sandler is glad she took on the task and added to her skill set. Her artwork displayed at the library is just one of the many still lives she’s drawn since then. 

“The challenge is to see your art for what it is, fix the mistakes, and not take it personally,” she said.

Expanding her style of work has helped Sandler observe how her drawings have developed over time, and how that development has reflected her time and effort as an artist.

Sandler at SCAD, working on an improvisational figure drawing in one of her classes. Photo courtesy of Emma Sandler

“It’s hard to pinpoint my single favorite thing about drawing because it can be so many different things,” Sandler said. “You can influence anyone’s emotions with just a pencil and paper, even your own.”

Sandler believes that drawing can relieve stress and boredom, as well as teach focus, patience and craftsmanship.

“It’s a great creative outlet,” she said. “I love the feeling of getting ‘in the zone’ and focused on a drawing to the point where I can ignore all the little things going on around me.”

Sandler is undecided if she’ll pursue a career in art, but “no matter what,” she said, “nothing will stop me from keeping it as a part of my life.”