Find­ing color in cul­ture

Young painter re­flects life in Latin Amer­ica

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jenny Thompson

Paint­ings and sketches by UGA stu­dent Ce­lan Hard­man fill the walls and halls of her par­ents’ Cov­ing­ton home.

As an English and paint­ing ma­jor, 21- year- old Hard­man com­bines art with jour­nal­ing in her bril­liantly col­ored mod­ern im­pres­sion­is­tic pieces. She has trav­eled to coun­tries such as Costa Rica and Panama doc­u­ment­ing the daily lives of the in­dige­nous peo­ple of Latin Amer­ica.

“ I wanted to see a new cul­ture and learn a new lan­guage,” Hard­man said, “ and Span­ish was it for me.”

Dur­ing the sum­mer

of 2006, Hard­man de­parted for Costa Rica as the first re­cip­i­ent of UGA’s Cen­ter for Un­der­grad­u­ate Re­search Op­por­tu­ni­ties ( CURO) fel­low­ship.

“ The pro­gram is so sup­port­ive,” Hard­man said, “ and they re­ally fo­cus on re­search in all ar­eas — hu­man­i­ties and sci­ences.”

While in Costa Rica Hard­man pho­tographed or sketched the res­i­dents of the Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­try, later trans­form­ing them into vividly col­ored mo­saic- like oil paint­ings.

“Through a se­ries of my paint­ings, I wanted to show the old parts of Costa Rica — the fruit mar­kets and street ven­dors — and how this is now be­ing re­placed with goods from large cor­po­ra­tions like Nike,” Hard­man said.

Hard­man said she jumped out of a taxi tak­ing her to one of the two shops in San José where she could buy oil paints so she could sketch an el­derly wo­man on the side of the road sell­ing stick­ers and pen­cils for pen­nies.

She was amazed at the gen­eros­ity and hos­pi­tal­ity of the peo­ple Costa Rica, es­pe­cially the ones who had very lit­tle to give.

Al­though she jumped out of a taxi to meet “Maria,” she said she most en­joyed meet­ing and paint­ing Fer­nando — a long, white-bearded man in New York City’s Cen­tral Park. Fer­nando had or­ga­nized a golf-like game played with hands, blocks and bul­let cas­ings for the city’s chil­dren ev­ery day for 35 years.

“When­ever it would rain, he would find some­one with an um­brella to come over and hold it over us while we chat­ted,” Hard­man said.

Be­cause she likes to tell sto- ries through her art, it’s no won­der she names Rus­sian-born French painter Marc Cha­gall as her fa­vorite artist. Cha­gall of­ten por­trayed Be­laru­sian folk­life and con­cep­tu­al­ized themes found in the To­rah.

“I ad­mire his use of col­ors and imag­i­na­tion and just the over­all pres­ence of his pieces,” Hard­man said.

Hard­man grad­u­ated from East­side High School in 2004. Dur­ing her stud­ies at UGA, she re­ceived the Mary Rosen­blatt schol­ar­ship for paint­ing and draw­ing, had one of her pieces placed on per­ma­nent dis­play in Moore Col­lege and par­tic­i­pated in a num­ber of other ser­vice and so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Once she grad­u­ates, Hard­man would like to at­tend grad­u­ate school — she is cur­rently re­view­ing schools through­out the United States and in Europe.

She would also like to con­tinue trav­el­ing through the Span­ish-speak­ing world il­lus­trat­ing how those cul­tures main­tain their her­itage while em­brac­ing West­ern trends and cus­toms.

She would like to com­plete her grad­u­ate the­sis in In­dia through an artist res­i­dency. Af­ter a friend trav­eled to the coun­try, she de­cided on the idea.

“The trans­lated sto­ries from my lit­er­a­ture classes and my friend’s beau­ti­ful pho­to­graphs re­ally drew me to In­dia,” Hard­man said.

How­ever far Hard­man trav­els, she said she will al­ways re­mem­ber New­ton County. The home she grew up in from the age of three has a daylily farm on one side and a na­ture re­serve on the other. The green­ness of the area seems un­touched by the county’s re­cent rapid growth.

“The nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of New­ton County is just won­der­ful for in­spi­ra­tion,” Hard­man said.

She also ap­pre­ci­ates the quaint­ness pre­served in Cov­ing­ton’s down­town square, where peo­ple can safely stroll along the side­walks and talk with friends old and new.

“That’s what makes a com­mu­nity,” Hard­man said.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Pas­sion for art: Ce­lan Hard­man, a young artist who at­tends the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, pauses in her fam­ily’s Cov­ing­ton home with two of her color­ful paint­ings.

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