Spotlight on Student Artist

After spending his entire high school career focusing on art, sophomore James Davis Rideout still wanted to come to Eastern, despite the recent closure of the art program.

Rideout attended an art magnet high school in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he intensively studied both the history and practice of art. Through his high school, Rideout attended several different art galleries in places like New York City and won numerous awards for his creations.

One of his pieces (shown to the right) won a Scholastic Art gold key vision award when he was a sophomore in high school. According to Rideout, about 200,000 entries are submitted, 10,000 are recognized nationally and 40 receive vision awards in the competition. For the honor, Rideout was invited to a reception at Carnegie Hall.

However, even with so much talent at hand, Rideout decided that his faith was more important than his passion.

“It was a huge decision to come to a Christian college over an arts college,” Rideout said. “The biggest issue was that I felt my faith was going through a lot of crap (in high school). I was really being tested and there was no feeding, no development.”

Now in his second year at Eastern, Rideout continues to create art, just not for classes. He is majoring in anthropology, with a minor in economic development. He said that he enjoys “learning how to learn.”

Rideout is very involved with campus activities, serving as an RA in Eagle Hall, playing drums for the chapel worship team, running for the cross country team, and being a member of both R4Kenya and the Mike Ski Art Foundation.

Even though he is no longer taking art classes, Rideout believes that his talent will be a part of his future, he just does not know how.

“I know that it will play a role – I trust God that it will,” Rideout said. “It is a passion of mine, but it’s not all that I am.”

Several students may be familiar with Rideout’s artwork, considering he created the banner for Eagle Hall at the beginning of the school year. Besides sketches, Rideout enjoys dabbling in numerous art genres.

“I equally appreciate them all,” Rideout said. “I’ve had enough training in art history to know that they are all extremely good, even highly abstract art. It all starts off with an understanding of reality and the physical world.”

Unfortunately, Eastern’s art program closed the year before Rideout started, but he was able to get a taste of the experience during a prospective visit when he roomed with the late Michael Skinner Jr.

Skinner, who passed away this past December in a car accident, was one of Eastern’s last art graduates. He and Rideout formed a unique relationship based on their love of art.

“He would constantly ask for critiques,” Ridout said. “I felt loaded from all my instruction in high school. … He always really appreciated it.”

In honor of Skinner’s love of art, Rideout and two other Eastern students have formed the Mike Ski Art Foundation. They are currently in the process of making the foundation a recognized campus club.

“Our eventual goal is to set up an art program on campus in honor of Mike Ski,” Rideout said.

Creating a new art program will take a large amount of money and time, so the foundation is currently trying to raise student awareness and interest. Rideout said he believes anyone can be an artist and learn to express themselves.

“What I have a passion for is art history because you can learn so much from history,” Rideout said. “Then participating in it and learning to see the world that is three-dimensional and put in into the two-dimensional.”

By sharing his love of art and knowledge of its history, Rideout hopes to help other students discover their creativity, while genuinely appreciating other’s works.

“I think that (art) is a powerful way to communicate – a language that I would love to see people appreciate, love and practice,” Rideout said.

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