On Sunday, Oct. 21, a bear painted by eight former West Henderson students was sold for $4,300 in front of the Henderson County courthouse in downtown Hendersonville.

“I was honestly really surprised that it sold for that much,” former West student Brynn Welch said. “It’s impressive to think that someone liked a project a bunch of high schoolers did enough to pay that much. I’m proud that we were able to raise that much money to go back to Johnson Farm and support their programs.”

The sponsors of the bear are Brian and Lindsey Wilson with the Friends of Historic Johnson Farm.

“It was strange to me to be creating something and not get crazy with it,” Welch said.

Welch was not alone in this project. Other artists included former West honors art students Regina Babor, Trinity Burnette, Hailey Gass, Shelby Hairston, Bethany Whittington, Kendall Owens and Mitzi Villafuerte. The students were under the guidance of art teacher Kelly King.

First the students had to brainstorm an idea that would please Johnson Farm. This project was an opportunity to show the public what the students were capable of, while also giving the students a chance to see what it would be like to have a career as an artist. Finally, the group began to work on the design they wanted.

“[The students] said, ‘We’re artists; let’s do this artistically.’ The goal of the bears is to raise money for a non-profit. They said, ‘Let’s make this beautiful,’” King said. “We also wanted to bears to look natural and not graphic.”

Their statue actually contains two bears, a mother and her cub. The group decided to have the mother bear wrapped in a quilt with different nature elements in the squares to represent aspects of the farm. This project was a springboard for Welch, as she chose to pursue a degree in art.

“Since I took art my freshman year, I can’t put it down. I love the way that art can transcend over language and cultural barriers, and everyone can appreciate and come together over it,” Welch said.

By: Taylor Frangesh, Feature Writer

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