Published on January 30th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff



At age 17, Westwood High School senior Ija Charles is already living her dream. She’s a nationally commissioned artist. Her painting “Waiting to Eat” was selected as the first place winner in the senior division of a black history art contest in Houma, Louisiana. If you’re wondering how a student in Columbia, South Carolina ends up creating a work of art for Louisiana, here’s the answer.

“I conducted a black history art contest for the students of Terrebonne Parish, 22 schools and the general public was invited to participate. One of Ija’s relatives heard about the contest and entered her artwork,” said Catherine Carter, coordinator of the Black History Month Program. “The painting was simply breathtaking.”

Charles was asked to create a painting that depicts African-American history, heritage and culture. Her art “Reminiscing Change” has been made into a 60 x 30 foot banner that will be unveiled at 2 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 31 at Houma’s Courthouse Square. The banner will be on display for the entire month of February.

“This is a dream come true, and I am honored to have been selected the winner,” said Charles. “I feel good about being able to use my art to express myself in ways that words never could.”

Charles says she turned to art after being bullied several times. She was paid $800 for the painting and graciously donated all of the money to Houma’s black history program.




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