Art show to highlight TTHS talent
When Cein (kee-in) Watson found out he would be a new student at Tahoe-Truckee High School last year, he decided it might be time to cut off his blue hair.
“I sported a big blue Afro in my old school,” Cein said, laughing. At his previous high school in New York, it was a “hit,” but he decided to tone it down a little as the new kid in town.
Whether he has blue hair or not (lately it’s bleached blond), Cein’s art teachers at TTHS predict that he will be famous one day.
Cein, a TTHS senior, has been an artist for as long as he can remember. As a kindergarten student, he liked doing tongue twisters and drawings for his teacher. As he got older, art became his form of rebellion.
“I got into art as more of a rebellion thing,” he said. “I was living with my Dad, and he’s not much into art, so it was a productive way of rebelling.”
When he was in middle school he was into Salvador Dali, like most kids that age, he said. Then it was the impressionists and Claude Monet.
And nowadays, his art is growing more sophisticated. He’s into almost everything, but especially enjoys pen and ink drawing and oil painting.
“It’s all about the mood,” he said. “I do a lot of portraiture and figure painting. I like the human figure a lot.”
This summer, Cein traveled to Chicago where he attended a class at the Chicago Institute of Fine Arts for three weeks on a scholarship. There he was introduced to Egon Schiele, a turn-of-the-century Austrian painter, one of Cein’s recent influences.
“His figures are all very dramatic. They’re always in interesting positions composition-wise. With the texture he uses, it looks like you can reach out and squash them,” he said.
These last few weeks have been busy for him. Besides the beginning of ski season – he is one of the captains of TTHS’s downhill ski team – he has been organizing his first art show in Truckee, which will be held at the school next Wednesday, Dec. 15.
“I did a lot of painting in Chicago and I came back with a lot of work,” he said. “I showed it to Ms. (Merri) McKee and Mr. (Kevin) Coleman and between the three of us, we decided it would be cool to do an art show.”
Cein has been working with woodshop teacher Kevin Coleman to turn the woodshop into Cein’s own gallery for the art show and reception, which begin at 5:30 p.m., before the high school’s winter concert, which begins at 7 p.m. Coleman’s students are designing and building walls that will go up in a corridor fashion, on which his work will be displayed. His work will be shown beginning with black and white, moving into color, ending with some “real funky stuff.”
Art and drama teacher Merri McKee will also be hanging her Advanced Art students’ work along the school corridor on the bottom floor, leading to the auditorium where the concert is held.
“There’s going to be a real variety of work,” McKee said. “It gives kids a chance to showcase their work.” She said it was important for students to create work for an audience so they can be aware of that they are reaching people and appreciate the give and take quality of their work.
Most of Cein’s work in the show will be portraits and self-portraits, both of which he keeps himself busy working on in the confines of his own bedroom. He said he does most of his creating there, in front of an easel while listening to music and dancing.
“I get criticized for it by my friends, but I say, ‘Don’t interrupt the creative process,'” he said, joking.
Cein grew up in New England, living in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York in a ski family. He moved to Truckee with his mom two years ago. He has one 23-year-old sister who lives in Vermont who he describes as the “coolest girl in the world.”
The word Cein means “long happy life” in Gaelic. His parents named him Cein when he was born with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) like his older brother, who died soon after he was born. His family moved to Boston after he was born so he could go to a clinic, and he spent the first two years of his life hooked up to a monitor. The SIDS went away after he was two, and so far he’s enjoyed a healthy and active lifestyle.
“They tell me I have a heart murmur, but the other day in a physical, they couldn’t find it,” he said.
Besides art, Cein enjoys skiing, snowboarding, music and most recently rock climbing.
When Cein arrived to TTHS last year as a junior, he impressed McKee right away with his talent and personality.
“He needs freedom because he has so much stuff in his head,” she said. “As a teacher I just wanted to offer him a place he could feel at home – a pl.ace to come and go as he needed.”
McKee gets excited talking about Cein and what he has to offer.
“I enjoy his head,” she said. “I enjoy talking to him about anything. He’s one of those rare individuals where every experience is embraced whether it is positive, negative, or neutral. He’s like a walking mental synthesizer. So, for a teacher, it’s a blast. It’s even fun to disagree with him.”
According to McKee, Cein will be well-known someday not only for his artistic talent.
“It isn’t just because his work is good,” she explained. “There’s a lot of kids who have come through who have done excellent work for me. But they haven’t been as fun. It’s the talent combined with his personality that’s going to make him so successful.”
Although Cein can’t quite picture himself as a famous artist yet, he did reveal his short term goals for the future: he hopes to spend the summer as a camp counselor in New England this summer, as usual, and then go to University of Utah in the fall.
“I’d like to double major, it’s kind of a dream, in philosophy and art,” he said.
He can’t say where he sees himself in five years, but said in 10 years, “I see myself in a little ski town being the crazy art teacher with too much hair. I’d like to teach, that’s my overall goal.”
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