Originally created 01/25/03

Young painter, younger subjects reflect God's love



Though some of Anna O'Keefe's pupils were so young they mispronounced her name, she was struck by their simplicity and humility.

She saw those childlike traits in their faces, the focus of her collection of oil portraits on exhibit through Feb. 28 at The Art Factory, 416 Crawford Ave.

"Painting is a part of my life - I couldn't just not do it," she said. But after graduating from Augusta State University about 18 months ago, she didn't feel motivated to paint.

"I kept asking God what I should paint," she said. "He showed me what was in my daily life."

She found direction in a copy of I Believe in Love, from St. Bede's Publications in Petersham, Mass. The 1969 work of Jean C.J. d'Elbee, a French priest and retreat master, the book contains his reflections on the life and writings of St. Therese of Lisieux.

Known as Therese of the Child Jesus, she had a childlike spirituality, Ms. O'Keefe said. "She sort of describes how we can have the humility of a child and how Jesus talks about that in Matthew 18 ... 'Unless you become converted and become as little children you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' "

When Ms. O'Keefe was asked to do an exhibit this fall, she knew what to paint - children, she said. Twelve of the 13 paintings were created since August. The subjects ranged in age from 5 months to 9 years.

"I tried to have them sit, because that is usually how I paint, but they couldn't do it," said Ms. O'Keefe, who relied on photographs for most of the portraits.

"I love portraits because each person is a reflection of God," she said. "And to paint that, to portray that, is really showing others" that reflection.

For more information, call 731-0008.

ON VIEW

WHAT: Unless You Become Like Little Children, children's portraits in oils by Anna O'Keefe

WHEN: Exhibit 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday through Feb. 28

WHERE: The Art Factory, 416 Crawford Ave. Call 731-0008

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.