Augusta County Teen Creates Art for Those Fighting Cancer
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - An Augusta County teenager is using her talent to celebrate and, in some cases, remember those who have fought cancer.
Naomi Ritchie is using art to provide comfort to those facing their toughest battle.
“This is the piece that started it all,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie created her first portrait after her young cousin survived the respiratory virus RSV.
“The background is all of the medical bills from his stay in the hospital,” Ritchie said.
She used a mix of stenciling, spray paint, acrylic paint, and collaging.
“He's living and he's, like, two now and so he's what started it as making like a piece that advocates for a disease,” Ritchie said.
Later, Ritchie's uncle was diagnosed with cancer.
“So I wanted to advocate cancer and then I put it together and that's what I did,” Ritchie said.
The Fort Defiance senior is also an art student at the Shenandoah Valley Governor's School in Fishersville. For her capstone project, she’s creating 17 portraits of people who are either fighting or have fought cancer.
“This piece right here is for a substitute teacher at Fort,” Ritchie said. “His name's Mr. Richie. He's the bomb.”
A couple of those individuals sadly lost that battle, like MaDee Boxler.
“Her grandma called her MaDee Jane when she was little,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie knows these kinds of details because she spent a lot of last year getting to know each one personally, either directly or through their families.
“I interview them to get their personality and then that's how I paint them is based on their personality,” Ritchie said. “What reflects them.”
She also asks what they would like her to include in her art.
“This little girl's name is Crysalin and she wanted Elsa and a unicorn included so that's what I included in hers,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie’s goal is to capture just a piece of each person in every creation.
“It's kind of like, wow, I did this thing,” Ritchie said. “I battled this horrible disease and I either overcame it, I'm still battling this disease and I am so strong, or I sadly have passed away from it and it's given the families, those families, kind of, like, comfort.”
None of the families have seen the portraits yet, but they will on Friday, March 29, during a reveal party at the University of Virginia Battle Building in Charlottesville, where Ritchie is giving each portrait to the individuals or their families.