Jesse Raudales, an official 2006 Olympic Artist, defines himself as a modern-day Michelangelo. Jesse’s versatility as an artist has allowed him the opportunity to work on a myriad of projects to include, but not limited to: children’s books, greeting cards, logos, graphic art designs, murals, and paintings.
Jesse explains that he paints how he feels at the moment. It is current affairs and whatever is happening in the world today that inspires his work. Jesse felt so strongly about the events surrounding the natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, that he expressed those emotions through his canvas. Jesse’s heartbreak over watching Americans searching desperately for food and water in their New Orleans community inspired a painting. That inspiration, “Peace for the Children of the World,” was chosen to highlight the 2006 Olympics. Out of applicants from all over the world, only six are chosen. Jesse Raudales is only the second minority to ever have the distinction of being able to call himself an Olympic Artist.
Today, Jesse speaks concerning another crisis in America, Educational Reform and Arts Education. Just as Jesse so eloquently captures the world with the stroke of his brush, this interview will attempt to capture Jesse Raudales through the words on this page.
Cheryl Curtis: As a student, where there any teachers that encouraged you?
Jesse Raudales: I had a great Art teacher Mr. Bone who always knew I was going to be a great artist. Also my mentor, Rodrick Taylor, encouraged me to always reach for the sky.
CC: When you were in school, where there any existing art programs that allowed you an opportunity to further develop your talents?
JR: No, not really.
CC: What programs should be offered to students to facilitate their growth as artists?
JR: Just like there are basketball camps, there should be Art camps.
CC: What has been one of your proudest moments as an Artist?
JR: The Olympic painting, “Peace for the Children of the World,” is of my son. Selection for the Olympics made me famous. As the youngest Olympic Artist, I am the only Artist to have three paintings in one Olympics.
CC: Budget cuts oftentimes mean that the arts are the first programs to go in schools. Some people even deem the arts as unnecessary when it comes to students' academic success? What do you say to that?
JR: Art is a universal language. More funding should be given to the Arts. When I was in college, Art funding was cut. I had to leave Art School and I was making all A's. I was the only one from my class who had to leave.
CC: When you had to leave Art School, were you able to continue your education?
JR: No, I had a major decision to make.
Jesse Raudales, an official Artist of the 2006 Olympics, not only paints what inspires him, he strives to inspire. Read the rest of Jesse’s compelling interview tomorrow in Part II.