Assistant News Editor
Art Bacon visited Troy Elementary School on Tuesday to share some of his artwork and what he has learned in over 70 years of painting.
Bacon was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he began drawing at age 6. By 10, he was painting. He then majored in biology at Talladega College and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Howard University, but was determined to continue pursuing art.
“You always have to find something that you would like to do for the rest of your life,” he said. “One thing about painting — that’s something you can do until your last day on Earth.
“You’re not going to get better at football as you get older — that just doesn’t happen,” Bacon said.
In 2017, he won the Alabama Governor’s Arts Award, recognizing him for his “work and contribution to the arts in Alabama, across the United States, and beyond,” according to the Alabama State Council on the Arts website.
Now, Bacon still paints and visits schools and colleges to share his passion.
Bacon called two girls from Jennifer Lindsey’s art class, Rosie Staggs and Jalaysia Stringer, to sit on a stool in front of the class while he painted their portraits.
“Be natural now,” he said as Jalaysia posed.
After finishing, Bacon presented the girls with their portraits.
“I think her (Rosie’s) mom is gonna be super excited,” said Lindsey.
As he painted, Bacon invited the students to ask him questions about his life and artwork.
Excited to see their classmates’ portraits forming on the foam board canvas, students asked questions like “Who inspired you to paint?” and “Have you ever painted someone famous?”
Bacon said he gained inspiration from Michelangelo, one of his favorite artists, and that he had painted some famous people.
“They’re not movie stars,” he said. “They’re people like the director of the National Institutes of Health; some people that you won’t know, but they’re famous in their own right.”
Bacon said his favorite part was “dealing with the kids and the excitement they seem to have.”
“They’re curious, and they’re not shy,” he said.
Bacon said he wanted to “plant some seeds” to encourage students to become artists.
“Last time he was here, the kids just enjoyed hearing about his life as a scientist … and how he got started as an artist,” said Lindsey. “I think so many of them have a love for art, and they see that in him; it’s linked to his life (as a scientist).
“I think to make that connection has been a really good thing for my fourth-graders.”
Lindsey said Bacon shows her students that “no matter where you are, if you have a dream, you can achieve it.”
Bacon’s artwork is being shown in the Troy International Arts Center (IAC) until April 23, according to Carrie Jaxon, the IAC curator.