Local artist shares outlook on life

Xavier Smith • Updated Sep 14, 2016 at 11:00 AM

One local artist has received scholarships to some of the state and country’s most decorated art institutes and programs and used this summer as a launching pad for her career. 

Alana Hilpert, 17, of Lebanon, has a growing list of experiences and awards that includes programs at the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

“I chose to go to [Savannah College of Art and Design] and Governor’s School [in July and June, respectively] because SCAD is my top choice for college, and the Governor’s School program is very hard to get into and therefore an honor to attend,” Hilpert said. 

Hilpert said the more than five weeks at the camps helped further her development as an artist. 

“I dabbled in some digital art – something new for me – and refined my hand at drawing from life. Both programs convinced me that I would like to continue with art as a career,” she said. 

Hilpert, who said her favorite artist is Vincent van Gogh, also took home six awards at the Wilson County Fair for pieces entered into the ink, acrylic, colored pencil, charcoal, oil and watercolor categories. Her acrylic piece – a still life of apples that she painted at Savannah – won the best in show among her age group. 

Hilpert said she loves watching her art develop and the opportunity to express her love of nature because most of her works are flowers and animals. 

“My favorite part is honestly just the feeling of being able to visually convey anything I see or feel when I try hard enough. I often paint when I’m stressed or down, because my art is one thing that I’m able to control,” she said. 

Hilpert was also featured in the youth exhibit at the Mill earlier this year, which featured more than 30 students of Harriett Hodges’ art class. She said although Hodges has been for primary art teacher for nine years, she’s more like family. 

“She’s like a third grandmother and is super supportive of everything I strive for. She’s the one who helped get me from the messy projects of an eager 8 year old to the real (and growing) artist that I am now,” said Hilpert. “She is an incredible artist, and she has inspired me since I was very young. Though she’s extremely encouraging and optimistic, Mrs. Hodges has never hidden the more difficult realities of art.”

Hilpert said although her motivation changes almost daily, one of her most constant inspirations is her love and awe of nature. 

“I’m a strong Christian, so my faith is part of what makes me want to use my gifts to depict creation. I’m also extremely motivated by my five immediate family members, who are all just as creative as me in different ways. They’re very supportive, and the words ‘starving artist’ are hardly mentioned in my household,” she said.

Hilpert said she would include art in her future and hopes to attend Savannah College of Art and Design and major in illustration. She said her second choice would be a good state school and major in studio art. 

She said she would also possibly like to teach art to children or college students someday.

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