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Donna Walker
Donna Walker

Class Acts: Emma Jackson, Moore High School Senior

Apr 10, 2018

It took a total of 10,596 crayons in 2,772 shades and over two weeks for Emma Jackson to create the shadow box art of Oprah Winfrey that recently crowned her the High School Grand Prize winner in OKC Thunder’s Black History Creative Contest. The win earned her $500, four Thunder game tickets, and a Heroes Challenge Award plaque presented to her at center-court prior to a recent Thunder game.

Emma recognized Oprah as the hero in her piece because of her strength and the many ways she inspires women around the world. She decided to feature a modern-day figure in lieu of early civil rights leaders that are usually recognized in such projects.

The timing of her project choice was perfect, as Emma entered her art right after Oprah made her now-famous Golden Globe speech when she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.

“She has excavated a life of rags and riches and uses her platform to better the world any way she can,” Emma said.  “Not only does she have the most ambition of anyone in Hollywood, but she is willing to speak up about what many only whisper.”

Emma browsed the internet for project inspiration before she landed on the medium of crayons, which she thought would be a little easier than it turned out to be.

“I got the idea from various art pieces I had seen online,” she said. “I saw a professional artist who did a girl’s face out of crayons. It ended up being a much bigger challenge than I expected. I didn’t think I would need over 10,000 crayons to use around 2,500 in the project.”

Emma and her mom hit Facebook full force to get crayons donated from friends, co-workers, family, and acquaintances to make her art come to life.

“I hadn’t entered a contest before that,” she said. “I decided to go big or go home.  It was pretty stressful. I worked on it until the very last minute. Having such a good result was really a blessing.”

While her time in the spotlight at the Thunder game was an accomplishment in itself, Emma has many others to celebrate, and predictably, many more on the horizon.

Emma’s artistic talents have led her to create paintings for friends, t-shirts for school organizations, graphics for family businesses, and even her own graphic design company, yet her talent is just now beginning to see the light of day.  In fact, she only began to dip her art brushes into paint last summer after taking a beginning art class at Moore High School.  

As her mom Stacey Gordon says, “this wasn’t a lifetime gig.  All of this just bubbled up in the last two years. She did a lot of drawing in elementary school for PTA reflections but as she got older, she quit. She didn’t try again until she was required to take an art class at Moore High School her junior year.”

“I am in awe of her artistic qualities. She free hands everything. I think she got all her skills from her Grammy,” Stacey added.

Although she took a break from art, Emma isn’t letting go of it anytime soon.

“I initially began painting for fun, and now it is a stress reliever.  I can just turn on my music and paint!”

Emma's inspiration for media, art style, and subject matter came from pieces she often found online, which also helped her hone her skill.

“I just started by finding paintings online and duplicating them as practice.  Soon people began asking me to do art for them and I started doing paintings for other people.”

Acrylics is Emma’s preferred medium and one she has used for many school projects and work for friends.  

“I did this lion once around Moore-War last year," she explained. "It’s really cool. It really helped get our Moore pride going on.”  

Since then, her list of work to do for friends continues to grow. “I have quite the to-do list these days.”

Emma’s to-do list may be growing, but so are her accomplishments.  Emma was recently named the MHS Alumni Legacy scholarship winner, she’s in the top 5% of her class and a member of National Honor Society and has already earned 32 credit college hours. She is a member of the jazz state champion MHS Pom squad and a Student Council Senator.  

Stacey says she’s a very busy young lady.  Admittingly, Emma says she prefers to stay on-the-go and is not one to be idle.  Much of her time is spent serving others. She serves as Co-Commissioner of F.U.S.E. (Freshmen Utilizing Senior Experience) where she mentors an incoming Freshman student each week preparing them as they transition to high school.  In addition, as part of Lunch Buzz, she shares her heart and teaches social skills to an autistic student every month.

Recently, Emma volunteered at the local Food Bank, and last Halloween she joined her pom teammates at a local nursing home to deliver pumpkins and visit with senior adults. She sites the visit among her favorite experiences.

“It was a great," Emma said. "They got so excited to be able to pick out their own pumpkins.”   

Most recently, Emma was accepted to Oklahoma State University where she was awarded several scholarships.  She plans to study graphic design and possibly studio art.

While Emma’s to-do list of art projects for friends and family continues to grow, she has many other goals on the horizon. She recently entered the Palomar OKC Symbols of Hope contest where she submitted her vision of a heart as a symbol of hope.

“I’ve only done a couple of contests," Emma explained. "They’ve all had a cool meaning and theme behind them. That is why I choose to do them. I wanted to share a story that comes from the heart and goes along with the world today.”

Along with her art piece, she included a written description:

“In a world where violence is a common occurrence, we all need to take a step back and evaluate the opportunities in front of us. This image depicts that beauty and love come from the heart and we must sprout kindness with every beat to create a world of harmony with one another.”

Emma says of the project, “I hope to inspire a new image of love and beauty that begins within themselves to create a more positive atmosphere.”

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