By: Madison Fugate
If you have traveled past dark recently through the town of Stanton you will notice the vivid and eye-catching Christmas lights displays all throughout the main stretches of town. What many are also coming to enjoy driving past are the phenomenal and detailed artwork on some of the local businesses that feature Christmas and winter scenes. It may come as a shock to discover that the gifted artist behind these painted murals that are growing more and more famous daily is a young fifteen year old local girl, Grace Stearns.
Stearns is a sophomore at Powell County High School and is also an aspiring artist. Her journey as an artist began when she was first presented the opportunity to paint art on the glass windows inside the PCHS library featuring fictional disney characters and Harry Potter themed paintings as well. It was the encouragement from the librarian, Ms. Mary Beth Mink, and this opportunity that allowed her to expand and showcase her talents more and more.
Stearns also recognized her past educator, Ms. L. Jones, as one of the larger components to the success she’s made today in pursuing her dreams as a young artist. Stearns shares in reminiscing on her time spent in Ms. L’s classroom, “She was a very creative person herself and she was very intelligent. She made learning fun and that’s why I really liked her.” According to Stearns, perhaps the largest influence today on her artwork and interest in painting is local artist Ashley DelRosario. Stearns participated in art classes hosted by DelRosario where she learned to enhance her skills and grow more in doing what she loves to do most. “I could go on about Ashley, she’s amazing. She’s been a really big influence on me and she really helped me get into art as a whole.”
Stearns confessed that art has been a passion of hers, “since birth basically.” Her parents, Duane Stearns and Beth Stearns, admit that they are super proud of her and all of her accomplishments in chasing her dreams in the art world so far. Her mother, Beth, shares that she has always known Grace’s talents were unique since a very young age. Ultimately, Grace would love to one day be able to rely on her artistry as her career. She also is a member of the Gifted and Talented program and enjoys reading and writing in her spare time.
Local businessman, Pete Thomas, recognized Stearns artwork and presented her with the opportunity to paint murals for the Christmas season on some of his businesses in Powell County including Stanton Dairy Queen, Papa John’s and Legacy Liquor Wine and Spirits. It was during her time out battling the cold temperatures, doing what she loves with a paintbrush in hand, at Stanton Dairy Queen when another local business owner approached her eager to showcase her talents on the outside of their business as well. Daryl Billings, owner of Tanner Chrysler Dodge Jeep, will also soon have Stearns’ artwork displayed on the windows of his business to spread cheer and local talent this holiday season as well. If there’s two things that can be understood from Stearns and her journey thus far as a young aspiring artist, it’s that gifted and rare talent surely does exist inside of Powell County- and also, members of this community appreciate those talents. If you stop to appreciate these incredible displays on the windows of local businesses, also appreciate the hands that built these redefining masterpieces as a young PCHS student and remarkable artist inside the community.