In front of a two shades of blue and on top of a red floor sits a lonely and isolated young man – empty and seemingly without hope.
It is the stark picture of how the pandemic started for Everett High star artist Darren Pierre, who won a Silver Key art award late last month for the painting – which he titled ‘Isolated’ and for which so many students and staff have come to relate to as how they also felt.
Pierre, 18, said he has won Silver Keys in the past – one of the district’s most consistent winning artists – but this one was a little more personal because the painting (dubbed ‘Isolated’) bore more raw emotion than he usually lets into his work.
“At the beginning of the Quarantine I was in a really bad spot and wasn’t really trying to come out of it,” he said. “I stayed in my room 24/7 and never went out even if my mom let me go out. I would only go out if she sent me to the market. I didn’t want to associate with anyone for a while. I was depressed. This painting described how I felt. I did that painting when I felt exactly like that – isolated.”
Like many young people, Pierre struggled though many months, but has emerged and figured out how to remain creative and not fall into the depths of where he was when he painted isolated – though he said he values the painting because it’s an honest representation of how he felt.
Art Teacher Evan DeMarzo said so many students and staff have had strong feelings about relating to the painting, but a remarkable think for Pierre – DeMarzo said – is that after that painting his work began to show his growth within the situation.
“He had a drawing later on that showed him in the same corner, except this time he’s laying down on the floor and there’s a guitar by him, plants growing around him and he’s smiling,” said DeMarzo. “You see through his art that he’s kind of figured this thing out. It’s such a great contrast.”
Pierre is the rare artist that has as much interest in what he calls his “weird art” as he has in a more commercialized form of art – which he practices in his own home-based business that has been humming with orders and projects over the last several months. Meanwhile, he has also kept his artistic flair alive painting from home while taking remote classes and beginning the transition to go to Monserrat College next fall.
Pierre said his business is what has kept him going with art, kept him interested and able to perform at the level that would earn him another Silver Key award.
“Me being able to do this business has kept things going,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the business, I would have stopped doing art by now. It’s keeping me extremely busy and getting orders left and right. I’m just really excited to see it come to life now. That’s exciting and it keeps me going.”
The business is based in fashion, where he customizes clothing or objects for customers. That’s something he hopes to continue doing when he moves on to Monserrat, as the teachers there have told him they like his fashion portfolio and it’s something he could investigate in his artistic journey there.
That said, Pierre’s art career didn’t begin on a pair of designer jeans or on a canvas even.
When he was very young, he said his dad was studying to become an architect and would always be doing architectural drawings at his work desk.
“He would always be drawing buildings for his school and I was intrigued,” said Pierre. “Then, every time I got a book I would draw the characters in the book on the back pages of the book. I also drew on the walls, but my mom did not like that.”
Pierre started his schooling at the Keverian School and then moved up to Everett High, where he is a senior. At Everett High he has taken a number of classes including Studio Art, Advanced Art and Illustration – among so many others.
Yet, it was a contest sponsored by the MWRA that truly pushed him to begin thinking about art.
“My very first time really trying to do serious art was in the fifth grade for the MWRA Poster Contest,” he said. “That was crazy. I had always wanted to win that and hear my name called over the speaker at school. As it happened the day I actually won was one of the few days I was late to school. When I got there my friends were telling me I won the award. The one day I was late to school, and I missed my moment.”
But other moments would come and are yet to come.
Art Director Amanda Gil said the teachers at EHS expect big things out of Pierre, but not just on the canvas. He is also a talented singer, and certainly has a mind for business too. Plus, she said, he is a kind and caring young man.
“It’s not because Darren is super successful in his talent and his art, but his character is one of a kind,” she said. “He’s humble and kind and it speaks a lot about who he is as a person and an artist.”
In addition to Gil and DeMarzo, Pierre said he had been greatly influenced by teachers Annette LeRay and Brianna Pierce. He is the son of Jean and Darlene Pierre.