This 18-Year-Old’s Journey To The Metropolitan Museum Of Art Is Just The Inspiration We Need

June 23, 2016  |  
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I look like an egg

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How many of us can say that we’ve accomplished our life goal by the age of 18? Not many. But that is the case for Cliffanie Forrester whose painting is now hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Forrester, who recently graduated from a Brooklyn high school, rediscovered a photo she’d taken on a trip to Uganda a few years back. Her art teacher, Maria Jimenez, encouraged her to paint the photograph and submit it into the P.S. Art program. Select students’ work would be displayed at the Met.

Forrester’s painting titled Uganda was not only selected, among other students, she won a $1,000 scholarship for her work as well.

When she learned that her piece had been selected, she tweeted.

The tweet went viral and, according to Fusion, in the eight days since she tweeted a photo of her work, it had already been viewed by 2.9 million people worldwide. 2.9 million is almost half of all the people who visit the Met in an entire year.

And while Forrester’s story of getting her painting in this prestigious place is a story all on it’s own, it’s the journey behind this moment and what it means to her that is so inspirational.

In a recent interview with Fusion, they asked Forrester what it meant to have her work go viral.

“It made me feel really good to get noticed on social media, especially as a person of color. It felt really good to hear people telling me that they felt inspired by me, that I made them feel like they could accomplish anything, that they’re going to set bigger goals. It felt good to know that other African-Americans and people of color were inspired by me and that I helped them feel like they could accomplish anything they put their minds to.”

Forrester knows that to be true after being denied admission at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

“I ended up not getting into SVA or the Savannah College of Art and Design, which really discouraged me. I was really confident I could get in, but finding out I didn’t brought me down to a depressed place where I didn’t want to paint anymore. But since my painting got into the Met, I’ve felt really encouraged. It doesn’t end here. I just can’t give up.”

Now that she has the type of exposure many artists would die for, school is not necessarily a requirement. At this point, I’m sure there are plenty of artists who would be willing to work with her. She should just keep working, keep grinding and I’m sure this won’t be the last time her work receives this type of attention.

Forrester offered this advice for other young artists of color who are pursuing a similar dream.

“Well, the only thing I could really say 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.”

P.S. Art 2016: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of NYC Kids will run until October 23.

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