Sewickley teen's art helps her deal with challenges of epilepsy
When everything else is hard, art comes naturally to Gia Veltre.
“It feels great,” said the Quaker Valley High School sophomore who uses her passion to deal with not-so-great things in life, such as epilepsy.
Because Gia, 16, “loves art more than anything” and because the brain disorder has become a “big, scary part” of her life, she combined both in a personal project at school.
She learned silk-screening and several pieces she made using the technique, along with paintings and drawings, are exhibited at Sewickley Gallery & Frame Shop.
Proceeds from sales and any donations will go to Pittsburgh-based Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania.
“Gia walked into our art gallery and immediately impressed us with her talent and maturity,” gallery owner Mark Rengers said.
“Her seizure disorder inspired some of her artwork, and knowing that allowed us to better understand her pieces. It is an honor to host Gia not only for her class project but, most importantly, for the beginning of her life's works.”
Diagnosed with epilepsy last year, Gia, daughter of Delia and Rob Veltre of Sewickley, has been trying to deal with multiple seizures and finding correct medication combinations.
She also has tried to make fellow students understand how the disorder affects her, do school work when her thoughts are “fuzzy” or her memory fails and deal with emotions and fears.
But she has her art, which she calls a “huge coping mechanism.”
The exhibit includes 24 pieces, featuring silk-screened works along with paintings and drawings of people Gia said she “made up in my head.”
Silk-screening involves using a lighting table to transfer an image to a silk screen that has been stretched across a grooved frame.
That image then is printed onto fabric or paper, by using a squeegee to pull the ink over the screen.
Gia's “Abby Normal” silk-screen prints feature numerous brain images to symbolize epilepsy, to represent how complex the brain is and “how little we actually know about it,” she said.
Abby Normal was the name given to an abnormal brain in the movie “Young Frankenstein.”
Other prints portray quotes and images of Holden Caulfield, a main character in her favorite book, “The Catcher in the Rye,”by J.D. Salinger. Others feature elephants, and Gia used a deep red background on another to offset the words “A Film By Woody Allen, Annie Hall,” an image of Allen and his quote, “I don't respond well to mellow.”
She said she was inspired to learn silk-screen printing after seeing artist Andy Warhol's work in the Andy Warhol Museum.
Gia, who has made ceramic and sculpture projects and sold some of her other work, said learning the new skill wasn't easy but her project mentor Robin Russell, Quaker Valley High School art teacher, taught her.
She said she wants to study art in college but after graduation, she doesn't want to be tied down to one job or career. She wants to continue to learn new things, travel and stay excited about life.
“I just want to jump around and see what there is,” she said.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.