From Mount Olive University
âTo create art is to express myself in a visible form,â said Celeste Aguirre OÃ±ate. âIt means putting my interpretation of my experiences on display to others. Creating art also brings me great joy, satisfaction and healing. “
OÃ±ate graduated in Fine Arts from Mount Olive University. Although her world today is filled with vivid colors, happiness, and the expectation of a bright future, her life has not always reflected such optimism. OÃ±ate recalls an unstable childhood resulting from frequent moves and new schools due to his father’s job.
âAt one point we were living with parents,â she said. “During these years, I have had difficult experiences which have had a negative impact on my emotional and mental health.”
To cope, OÃ±ate used art to express himself.
âOne of my earliest memories is when I was doing art,â she said. “In my good and bad years, art is what kept me going.”
A move to Goldsboro when OÃ±ate was in high school provided a fresh start and a clean slate.
âI started to accept myself and become who I am,â she said. âSomehow through this process, art has become more than a hobby. It has become a major part of my identity.
The first in her family to earn a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, and soon the first to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, OÃ±ate worked hard to achieve her goals. His diligence and determination paid off. In the spring, she received the title of visual arts student of the year from UMO.
Professor Cheryl Hooks said, âCeleste is a hardworking and determined student. She is creative and insightful. His works reflect his self-awareness and cultural sensibilities. Working with her has been a joy!
Whether it’s throwing clay on the potter’s wheel or mixing paints in the art studio, OÃ±ate tries to find inspiration in his everyday life.
âBut sometimes,â she said, âI find it better not to focus too much on inspiration and just do it! The end goal is just to create.
OÃ±ate recently had the opportunity to talk about his works with UMO President Dr H. Edward Croom and his wife. OÃ±ate described a series of canvas prints she painted depicting both men and women in her native Mexican culture.
âMen and boys are brought up to be tough and never show emotion,â she said. “In these images I have painted men in my life surrounded by flowers to express a stark contrast to reality.”
OÃ±ate also painted a series of women of Mexican descent covering their eyes, mouths and ears.
âUnlike men in our culture,â she said, âwomen are told what to think, what to say, what to do and even what to wear. I wanted these paintings to portray this feeling of cultural opposition.
Described by her friends as caring, hardworking and talented, OÃ±ate is on track to graduate in December. Her future plans include teaching art to elementary school children and possibly continuing her own education.
Ultimately, OÃ±ate wants to be the kind of teacher that students admire.
âThere are many UMO instructors who have made an impact on my life, including recently retired Professor Larry Lean, Department of Fine Arts Chair Bob Murray and Professor Cheryl Hooks. In particular, Professor Hooks not only had an impact on my educational journey, but she also deeply influenced my personal life. Until I met Ms. Hooks, I didn’t have a solid role model.
OÃ±ate aspires to be that kind of positive example for others, and she plans to use her art to achieve it.
âArt is what I’ve always loved to do,â she said. “Nothing else is equal to the happiness and fulfillment it gives me, so how could I have chosen anything else for my future career?” “