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Creative Corner: Community and confidence drive local's passion for art

"I can't help it. I was born to be an artist."

Tyrell Osborn, pronounced like Carol with a T,  with Seeker Creative was a shy child who found her voice through art. As an adult, she uses her art to connect with the community around her. 

She won an all-city art contest in Kindergarten with an abstract tempera painting. Though she remained a shy child, when she was doing art, she found more confidence.

"Even though I don't even know if I agree with giving Kindergarteners awards for art, it did give me the confidence boost to say, 'I'm an artist; people appreciate my art.' It wasn't a conscious thought. It was subconscious but it gave me, a very shy child with not a lot of self-confidence, one area where I could recognize, 'I got this,'" Osborn said.

Osborn knows that she is innately an artist even if society's expectations don't always match.

"I can't help it. I was born to be an artist. I love it. It's not about wanting to, it's just in my nature," she said.

She tried veering from the artist's path when she went to college, studying business and other subjects that didn't fit her well.

"​​When I got to college, it was like, 'oh, well, art's a hobby, not a career. I didn't even finish because I was trying to take business classes and all these classes that I didn't care about because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do since I didn't have a passion besides art," Osborn said. "I did finally get a degree in Art Education. And still, it was art education, because 'oh, that can lead to a career, that's a job,' but I didn't get my degree until I was around 36."

She's found her way back to the passion for art focuses on creating community and peace in the world. She is inspired by Viktor Frankl, author of "Man's Search for Meaning." The words that speak to her are "meaning comes from three sources: one's life's work, love, and courage in the face of suffering." For Osborn, this plays out in her work and place in the world.

"In my world, the purposeful work is creating beauty in the world, love is human connection, and courage in the face of suffering is feeling your own feelings no matter how difficult because those feelings will come out whether you are prepared or not, " Osborn said.

Community is crucial to Osborn. It's what kept her in Longmont. She's originally from Michigan and joined a friend in sunny, mountainous Fort Collins, during a dreary Michigan winter. She later moved to Boulder and then to Longmont.

She said, "I feel like I just kind of accidentally ended up in Longmont and now I've been here for 15 years. It was a good place to raise the kids. But, really the community kept me here."

Osborn said she's regularly on the lookout for opportunities to give back through her art. Last summer, she painted one of the barricades used to expand patio space on Main Street. She used an image she painted as a protest sign during the summer of 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd. 

The image was "just a black silhouette of a woman who, instead of feet, had roots. It had a Lakota term, Mitákuye Oyásʼiŋ, at the top, which roughly translates to all my relations, meaning that we are all connected from the creatures, to humans, to the trees," Osborn said.

She notes that she wanted it to be for something, not against something. 

"I'm deeply against prejudice and police brutality, but I also prefer to promote positive messages. So, my signs said 'all my relations,' and then I turned it into one of my favorite paintings. You can't see the words anymore, but it was still the woman and it was still the roots, but there were different colors of flowers coming down and they were all different, like skin tones," she said. 

An opportunity to create art from burned wood from the 2020 Cal-wood Fire gave her another opportunity to give back.

"Cal-wood does a lot of good for a lot of people. So, Chautauqua and Cal-wood aligned to create this fundraiser where they took some of the wood that had burned and that's what the benches were made of, which I thought was really cool," Osborn said.

She continued expressing the message, "we are all one" through her art.

“What I created was faces coming out of the wood grain. After sanding the wood down, I spent some time just being with the wood and being with the bench and letting it talk to me a little bit,' she said. “I chose a bench specifically that had some really beautiful grain and some really beautiful knots and one part that was still pretty raw, and it's just part of my nature that human connection is really important to me so a lot of my artwork has human figures and human faces in it. And so naturally to me, it's like women came out of the woodwork," Osborn said.

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